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Focus on basic eye-care tips

MANILA, Philippines - The sights of summer are best savored with eyes wide open. Better watch out though, as there’s a flipside to this  it exposes the eyes to many unexpected threats that can quickly take the fun out of the season. 

All it takes to harm the eyes is a single flying grit, a harmful chemical seeping in from your dip in the public pool, or a ball accidentally hitting the eye area. Eye hazards lurk even in the most ordinary activities like hacking tree branches during your hike or playing in the sand.

For this reason, eye experts at the American Eye Center constantly remind the public to take good care of their eyes. Just as people put sunscreen lotion when going outdoors this season, keeping the eyes shielded or protected should also be a conscious health habit.

Wearing sunglasses, for instance, does more than keeping you from squinting in the sun’s glare; it helps block harmful UV rays that can cause long-term damage to the eyes. Children need just as much protection as adults in this regard, so parents must buy their kids a proper pair to wear instead of just going for toy shades that do more harm than good.  Sunglasses also shield your eyes from dirt and other flying debris while you’re traveling in a bus or car with the windows rolled down.

When doing outdoor chores like chopping wood, hammering nails, or even just cutting grass, it’s best to wear a pair of quality work goggles because these activities send wood chips and other debris flying. Protective eyewear should also be worn when playing with pellet guns, paintball, and other activities that can shoot projectiles straight into the eyes.

If you take a dip in the pool and the water stings your eyes, get out immediately and rinse them with clean water. Your eyes may be extra sensitive to the chemicals in the pool. If you’re into freshwater swimming, avoid stagnant or algae-filled waters since this will expose you to more harmful bacteria that can cause severe pain and damage to your eyes. Also, it is important to remove soft contact lenses since the water can change the way they fit in your eyes, resulting in infection from germs that cling under the lens.

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With all these summertime activities, there’s no wonder that a lot of people get conjunctivitis or sore eyes. This itchy or burning inflammation of the eyes is usually just a minor eye infection caused by allergens in the air or by a virus or bacteria. To keep it from becoming a more serious and contagious eye problem, frequently wash your hands and avoid rubbing the infected eye.

Finally, regular eye checkups must be part of your summer agenda.  American Eye Center recommends a baseline eye exam for children below five years old to check for childhood problems like strabismus or misaligned eyes and amblyopia or lazy eye. Those in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and up must have a baseline eye exam as well. These exams are important for identifying problems that are best  treated early, like glaucoma and macular degeneration. Those with diabetes or a family history of eye problems can also benefit from more frequent visits.

American Eye Center is fully accredited with the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. Its fully equipped branches are located at Level 5, EDSA Shangri-La Plaza, and at Level 4 of Greenbelt 5, Makati City. For inquiries, call 636-0762 or 729-EYES (3937) or visit www.AmericanEye.com.ph, www.twitter.com/eyetweets or www.facebook.com/AmericanEyeCenter.

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