Keep Your Eyes Healthy This Summer

Of course, summer is year round in Hawaii, but for the rest of y’all, it’s about to be peak summer time. Protecting your eyes from the summer sun is just as important as protecting your skin.

 The same harmful rays that can damage the skin can also increase your risk of developing eye problems such as cataracts, pterygia, and even cancers of the eyelids or the conjunctiva (the white membrane covering the eye) or the cornea (the clear part dome part of the front of the eye)

If you see an unusual growth on your eyelid or the conjunctiva (the white of the eye) that seems to be increasing in size, it is best to get it checked by an ophthalmologist.  Though rare, basal cell, squamos cell carcinoma and melanoma, the types of cancers which affect your skin, can involve your eyes.

Cancer of the the eye (squamos cell carcinoma)

1. Always wear a big hat

The more coverage the better. I always make sure that all of my hats also specify UPF 50. Not all hats are made of material which blocks the sunlight’s rays, some simply offer shade. Check the tag to be sure. A brim with at least 3 inches is ideal and there really are so many super cute options available now.

Big hat. Oversize sunglasses. Long sleeve bathing suit. All staples for Hawaii life.

2. Sunglasses!

Sunglasses don’t need to be polarized, but they do need to have 100% UVA/UVB sun protection. If you buy them from an optical shop, then you can be assured they are UV protective. Even cheaper sunglasses from Amazon have this feature, but just look for the sticker that says it.

You can actually get sunburn of the eyes, or photokeratitis. I have seen it many times. Symptoms include redness, pain and blurry vision. The best way to prevent this is to wear sunglasses.

Our whole family is into sunglasses.

3. Sunscreen on your eyelids

Yes, you heard me correctly, I’m actually recommending sunscreen on your eyelids. But, make sure it’s non-migratory, meaning it won’t sweat or drip into your eyes. Skinceuticals MD makes a great one that I routinely use to protect that delicate eye area. Just be careful to not apply too close the eye.

4. Goggles!

If you’re swimming in a pool for a prolonged period of time, goggles will help prevent the chemicals in pool water from causing irritation and grittiness. Even salt water pools can disrupt your natural tear film, so make sure to wear goggles for your laps.

5. Artificial tear drops

I always stash a bottle of artificial tears in my beach bag. Dry, hot and windy conditions (all things you find at the beach) can be extremely irritating for your eyes and can cause dry eyes. One drop of tears can alleviate your symptoms and keep your vision clear.

I love being outdoors year round (it’s why we live in Hawaii!), but we are ALWAYS sun safe and cautious. I hope everyone else will be too with these tips!

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Dr. Rupa Wong


Hi! I'm Dr. Rupa Wong. Physician. Private Practice Owner. Mama to 3 kids. Managing Partner. Educator. Textbook Author. Conference Co-Founder. Mentor. I am more than just one thing, even as a doctor and I bet you are too. I would love to help you envision the life you want, and then get after it. What are you waiting for?

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