Monday, September 13, 2010

The eyes have it! Take care of your peeps!

September is Sports Eye Safety Month. In honor of Sports Eye Safety Month, this week’s blog will address basic care of aging eyes and eye safety.

FitBird training team member Dr. Stephanie Cauley is an optometrist with an active practice in Baton Rouge. I corresponded with Dr. Cauley and asked about what we could do now to protect our vision for the future (2040). Her recommendations include wearing ultraviolet protection for your eyes when outside and getting yours eyes checked every two (2) years if you are over 40. She also pointed out to me that when we age our eyes get dry so we should use moisturizing drops as needed. Dr. Cauley uses Refresh but suggests that we start with generics and experiment until we find the right one for our eyes.

Wearing UV protective eyewear is not only a fashion statement (as clearly shown by Coug), it's good for your eyes!

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is emitted by the sun and most of us are aware of it by the sunburn it causes. But sunburn is not the only damage that UV rays can cause. Our eyes have special molecules that absorb UV lighting. Long term exposure to UV rays can cause damage to the cornea, lens and retina as well as to the eyelids and the delicate skin around our eyes.

To protect our eyes against harmful UV rays, doctors recommend that we wear sunglasses that block out 99-100% of UV rays. How do we know if our eyewear provides protection? Look for sunglasses that say “UV 400” or “100% UV Protection.” Look carefully, eyewear that merely says “UV Protection” may not offer the required safeguard against UV rays.

When selecting sunglasses look for those that say "UV 400" or "100% UV Protection."
In addition to UV protection, sunglasses offer additional protection for our eyes. In fact, according to National Eye Institute, over 90% of all sports eye injuries can be prevented by wearing protect eyewear.

Up to 90% of all sports related eye injuries can be prevented by wearing protective eyewear. This is especially true when you are going speeds in excess of 20 mph!

Wearing sunglasses during a bike ride or run guards again grit, dirt, bugs or other errant objects that fly into our eyes (or, objects we may run into like low hanging limbs). As the air flows into our face while running or cycling, eyewear can maintain the moisture content of our eyes.

The wrap-around style of eyewear (as modeled by Dazzle) gives additional protection to your eyes from dirt or other airborn debris.
On a personal note, last year on Superbowl Sunday, I had an unfortunate run in with a dog while riding my bike. When the incident happened I was wearing protective eyewear (Specialized Optics). My helmet cracked in three places and my eyewear was scrapped free of color on one side, but the skin around my eye was protected and free of road rash.

After a 17 mph bike accident with a dog, the pink beveled edge of my Specialized eyewear was scraped flat and clear of color. I'm glad the glasses took the abrasion instead of my face.
Bruised, but no abrasion! Yay for sports eyewear!

What brand or type you choose is up to you and your budget. Wrap around eyewear can protect the eyes from debris from every angle. I prefer shades with a streamlined shape and slimmer profile because it makes them more comfortable under my bike helmet or sports cap. I also look for glasses that have special rubbery nose grips as opposed to just slick plastic. It’s very annoying to have the glasses slide down my face with every step or pedal stroke. Lightweight and scratch-resistant is preferred over the opposite. You can even get prescription inserts.

Sunglasses can be fit with a prescription lens insert.
What about polarized or colored lenses? Polarized lenses reduce glare but have nothing to do with UV rays. Polarized or varying colored lenses can however increase runner or cyclist safety to the extent they better enable an athlete to see hazards.

Smile! You're taking care of your eyes!
All those who want to protect those peepers, say EYE!


  1. I just recently realized that there is a difference in the stem length of many sports glasses. Mine have the tendency to slip forward on my face when I have my cycling helmet on because the stems are too long and the helmet pushes them forward. I found a pair of Serfa's recently that are women specific and fit better. Now if only I had the money to buy them...

  2. Janie, that's because you aren't buying "gnome-specific" sunglasses...oy! Thanks for the info, Lizzard. I didn't know that "UV Protection" isn't necessarily enough.

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