Eye Safety Tips for Surfers

Conjunctival pterygium is also known as "surfer's eye," and for good reason. Caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight and irritation from sand, wind, and other irritants such as seawater, a conjunctival pterygium is damage to the mucous membrane of the eyeball that eventually grows a fleshy membrane. Though the membrane itself is benign, it can impair vision if left untreated, and can cause a burning, itching sensation. This condition is common in people who spend a lot of time outdoors, and especially in surfers. Read on for some eye safety tips to keep in mind before hitting the surf.

Wear UV-Blocking Sunglasses

The number one way to help prevent surfer's eye is to wear sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays 100 percent. Regular sunglasses without UV protection won't keep your eyes safe. It's important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, as clouds do not actually block the UV radiation. Wrap-around sunglasses provide the best protection.

Wear Eye Protection While Surfing

It is important to keep your eyes safe while you are on your board. There are a variety of goggles available, many of which offer UV protection. This will serve the purpose of protecting your eyes from the sun while also protecting them from the saltwater, wind, and sand that are part of the surfing experience. Getting well-fitted, high-quality eye protection gear is a worthy investment for any serious surfer.

Wash Your Face after Surfing

After getting in from the beach, wash your face with warm water. This will help flush any irritating particles out of your eyes and off of your skin.

Keep Your Eyes Moisturized

One of the causes of pterygium is dry eyes. If you notice your eyes are dry and itchy after a day out at the beach, use eye moisturizers, such as artificial tears, to keep them well-lubricated.

Wear a Hat

For added protection, when you're out of the ocean and on to the beach, wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield your eyes from the sun. It is also a good idea to seek shade whenever possible during the brightest hours of the day.

Stick With Fresh Air

When it comes to keeping your eyes safe, humidity can actually be a good thing. Dry air can dry out your eyes. While indoors, let in fresh air as often as possible. Don't let the air get too dry, especially when using air conditioning. A tip for adding some moisture to the air without turning on a humidifier is to set bowls of water around the house.

Wash Your Face Regularly

It's not enough to rinse your face off in the shower, and you shouldn't just scrub it down after a trip to the beach. Get into the habit of using a washcloth and mild soap to briefly wash your face every day. This will help keep your eyes clean and moisturized.
You don't have to be a surfer to get surfer's eye, but it does increase your chances. The sun, sand, and waves are trademarks of the beach, but they are also the leading causes of eye irritation. Being vigilant about eye protection is the best way to stop the problem before it starts. Always keep your eyes protected when outdoors, both on the shore and in the waves, and keep them moisturized whether indoors or out. Following these tips will help you maintain your eye safety no matter how much time you spend in the sun.

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