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Protecting Your Senior's Vision During the Summer

Updated 8/11/15 4:12pm | You’re itching to soak up the summer sun and Alert1 is right there with you. But before you step outside, be sure you to take necessary precautions for yourselves and loved ones. Caregivers can prepare now to ensure seniors enjoy fuller summers. As parents and grandparents, you are constantly reminding children to wear sun block during the summer. Either that and/or you are slathering it all over yourselves! But while most Americans understand that ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause skin cancer, many of us are less aware of the damage that UV radiation can do to our eyes. 

Protection for your eyes

As we enjoy the warm temperatures this summer, it’s important to protect your eyes as well as your skin.  Long term exposure to the sun can lead to a number of age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Limiting your UV exposure is one way seniors can reverse the hands of time. All people, especially seniors, should take care of their eyes with sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays.  Don’t equate the price tag on your sunglasses with the amount of protection they provide – instead look at how many UV rays the glasses block.  Every senior summer wardrobe should include a wide-brimmed hat that provides additional protection against the sun.  The good news is that while it’s difficult to force my young nieces to wear a hat during the summer, my grandparents find the idea completely sensible.

Preserving your "Eye-Q"

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Aging Initiative reminds us that as we age, our bodies may become more susceptible to environmental hazards because of the diminished capacity of various organ systems that occur in the natural aging process. Our eyes are particularly susceptible to age-related issues.  The non-profit organization Prevent Blindness America notes that although half of all blindness can be prevented, the number of people in the US who suffer from vision loss continues to increase.

eye chart. alert1 medical alert systems

Who should use eyewear for UV protection?

Any time you go out into the sun or a highly reflective UV environment, you need to use UV protected eyewear. Some people are at a higher risk for retinal damage compared to others. Caregivers need to evaluate their senior's health and vision for full protection. Look over the questions below to evaluate your UV radiation exposure.  If you answer yes to any of the following you could be at risk for UV harm done on your eyes.

  • Have you had cataract surgery in either of your eyes?
  • Do you live in the Southern United States or in Mountainous regions?
  • Do you spend time at the beach, in the mountains or on snow slopes?
  • Do you use a sunlamp or tanning bed?
  • Do you spend a majority of time in the outdoors?
  • Do you take medications that increase your sensitivity to UV radiation?
  • Are you a medical technologist, welder, or circuit board manufacturer?

Reduced vision is of particular concern to those of us who work in senior safety. Without good eyesight, the chance of falling increases, which can lead to a loss of mobility and ultimately independence. So this summer, make sure everyone in your extended family wears sunglasses to protect their eyesight. And, if your older family members haven’t had an eye exam lately, take the time this summer to make sure all eyeglasses are up to date to avoid falls and stumbles. Our fall detection medical alert will protect seniors with impaired vision in the instance of the unthinkable.