The Sun! After a long winter without it, the first days of summer are both welcome and brutal. Enduring months of dark days leaves Portlanders prone to react with a vampire like sensitivity to the sun’s rays during the first days of summer. Enter the dreaded summer sunburn. Hair, skin and eyes all require protection that we aren’t necessarily accustom to paying attention to as we run out into the blazing glory of a beautiful northwest summer day. Wearing sunscreen is an obvious choice to protect your skin but what about those delicate places that can’t be covered with sunblock - like your eyes?
UV rays emitted by the sun can burn the eyes just as they do the skin. The symptoms of eye sunburn generally show up several hours after prolonged exposure and can be especially noticeable if they were burned during midday when the sun is at its brightest. Eye sunburn symptoms include reddening of the eye, dryness, itchy and tearing eyes, and sensitivity to glare or shiny things. Eyes can easily be sunburned without a person feeling it or noticing that it is happening.
PREVENTING EYE SUNBURN:
Sunglasses are, of course, key in helping to prevent eye sunburn but beware that not all sunglasses are created equal when it comes to protecting your eyes. When selecting sunglasses, look for a pair that offer complete UV protection. Be sure to opt for polarized lenses if you spend a lot of time on or near water, or other highly reflective surfaces. Style wise, bigger is usually better when it comes to sunglasses! Choose sunglasses with wide temples and large lenses that cover a greater area of your face for added protection (think Jackie O’s iconic sunglasses). Lastly, choose a pair of sunglasses that closely follow the contours of your face, especially around the brow area to prevent light from hitting your eyes from overhead. With the right fit and the right protection options, sunglasses should be both fashionable and functional.
TREATING EYE SUNBURN (Calendula Herbal Eye Compress):
Calendula (marigold flower) has long been known for its therapeutic skin and tissue healing properties. Frequently used in traditional first aid remedies, it promotes healing by calming and soothing the skin, reducing redness, inflammation and tames itch. In this recipe, you will use dried calendula flowers to make a floral water and an eye compress. Dried calendula flowers are available at most health food stores in the bulk herbs and spices area.
To make the floral water, fill a basin or bowl with warm water and add approx. ½ cup of dried calendula. Allow the herbs to soak for approximately 15 – 20 minutes. The water should turn a lovely pale yellow color and the petals should feel soft and pliable to the touch.
To make the compress, remove the calendula from water by hand or using a slotted spoon. Place flower petals onto center of 2 prepared sections of cheese cloth. To prepare the cheese cloth, simply cut two identical pieces of cheese cloth into rectangles measuring approximately 7” by 5”. Fold the cheese cloth around the pre-soaked calendula, paying attention to secure all herbs inside the cheese cloth. Apply the compress to eye area for 10 minutes. Discard after use.
Use the remaining floral water for follow up compresses by soaking a clean (preferably white or non-dyed) washcloth or cotton towel in the water. Wring out and apply to eye area. Floral water can be chilled in the refrigerator prior to use for an extra cooling effect. Floral water should be discarded after 1-2 days of storage in the refrigerator.
Now get out there and enjoy that sunshine! I hope this little bit of herbal wisdom helps everyone have a great summer! Oh, and we have some pretty cool sunglasses here at Spectacle if your current pair isn’t cutting it against the nicest summer we've had in years. :)
-Kristy, Vision Wellness Director
(photos courtesy of our very own Elora Faye)