Eye Protection on Gameday
For some, autumn in Athens, Ga. means game weekends – a sea of red and black no matter where you go, and a certain energetic buzz that you can’t find anywhere else in the state. This weekend marks the 2013 edition of the Georgia-Florida rivalry, which isn’t held in Athens, but in neutral territory in Jacksonville, Fl. While game goers watch as their team fights for the Okefenokee Oar trophy this weekend, they should also be mindful of protecting their eyes. That the sun is less powerful during the winter and autumn months is a common myth. Although it may feel cooler outside, the sun is still emitting harmful UV rays.
To better understand the importance of eye protection, one must better understand the sun. The sun emits two types of wave-lengths that can cause harm over a long exposure:
UVB: Middle wave-length rays that cause tans and sunburns. SPF in sunblock protects from UVB rays.
UVA: Long wave-length sun rays that penetrate deeper into the skin. Often associated with premature aging of the skin (like wrinkles or skin discoloring) and skin cancer.
While UVB rays are strongest in the summer months, UVA rays are consistently present all year round. Even on hazy or overcast winter days, UVA rays can penetrate cloud coverage and harm the skin and eyes. Even the skin on the eyes can get badly sunburned. Prolonged exposure to either type of ray is considered a cause of various eye problems, including corneal burning as well as eye or eyelid skin cancer.
So, whether cheering in Sanford Stadium, tailgating, or enjoying the games from a home backyard, consider these ways to protect your eyes from the sun:
Sunglasses: Remember, the tint of sunglasses plays no part in their ability to block UV rays. A black shade could have less protection than a lighter brown shade. When purchasing a pair, stay away from brands that neglect displaying the level of UV protection. Instead, look for glasses that block 99-100% of UV rays. A typical pair of sunglasses doesn’t shield the sides or top part of the eye from sun exposure as efficiently as a pair that wraps around the face. Try to find a wrap-around pair, especially if preparing for long exposure to the sun (like on game day). If you regularly wear contacts or eyeglasses, shop for prescription sunglasses so that you don’t miss a minute of the Gameday action. At Athens Eye Care, we carry many popular brands like Ray Ban, Cole Haan and other frames with protective lens coatings.
Contacts: Contact lens wearers can purchase contacts that help block UV rays. Even with the added protection, wearing sunglasses is important to protect the area around the eyes. Be sure to tell your eye doctor at your next appointment if you need contact lenses with UV protection.
Apparel: A wide brimmed hat can also help with added protection, especially when watching the game from the stadium. A hat adds that extra bit of shade over the face and eyes that the open Sanford stadium doesn’t offer. If watching the game while tailgating or outside in general, wear a hat or seek shade every so often to break up sun exposure.
Practice consistent UV protection, and stress the importance to others, especially children. A child’s eyes aren’t fully developed, and a lack of protection now could lead to complications later. With these tips in mind, Athens residents and visitors can fully enjoy the fall weather and game day festivities.