Most people think of shading their eyes during the summer months. But it's important to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays year round. These rays can burn the skin around your eyes and damage your corneas. Prolonged exposure to the sun also plays a major role in the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. Following are some tips to keep your eyes safe this summer and for the rest of the year:

1. Apply your sunscreen around the eye area (make sure it's waterproof so it doesn't drip into your eyes). An SPF of 30 will block out about 97 percent of UV rays.

2. Wear a baseball cap, or even better, a wide-brimmed hat with a two- to three- inch brim. They are very helpful in blocking harmful rays from reaching your eyes.

3. Make sure your sunglasses have 100 percent UV protection. You want to prevent ultraviolet light from reaching the retina. The best filters against these rays are in the amber-orange-brown range.

4. Choose sunglasses that fit close to your face and, if possible, wrap all the way around the temples as you should protect your eyes from all angles.

5. Even if you have contact lenses that offer UV protection, you should still wear sunglasses. Sunglasses help to prevent the drying effect caused by warm wind that most contact lens-wearers experience.

6. Wear sunglasses whenever you're outside, even on cloudy days – and not just in summer. Wear sunglasses anytime you are in high glare areas, around snow or water.

7. Don't forget the kids! Opt for sunglasses with UV protection for your children, and remember that the eyes of small infants should always be shaded from direct exposure to the sun. Dr. Ameet Goyal, M.D.
General Ophthalmologist and Oculoplastic Surgeon