Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Happy Day in the Gaspe'

Quebec's Gaspe' Peninsula exudes quintessential Quebecois spirit with lots of French-flavored traditions. I spotted this clown on a sunny afternoon at the harbor of the tiny village of Perce'.  Equipped with accordion, stylish hat and shades, she doesn't look like any clown you'd see in the U.S. She crooned French children's songs as kids scurried around, blowing bubbles and playing with balloons.   With the sun playing off the bright blue waves of the sea and a crisp breeze floating over the shore, it felt like a typical cheery day in this charming maritime province.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

UV Sun Protection For Eyes

I love the sun. You will never hear me complain about too much sun or too much heat. I have never met a beach or tropical spot that I didn't love. As I write this, the sun has beamed 95 sweltering degrees onto Chicago and I am heading out to soak it up. Don't get me wrong, I always protect my skin with sunscreen and usually a wide-brimmed hat but always, always, sunglasses. I wear sunglasses year round and wherever I travel because my eyes are sensitive to light. It never occurred to me that I was actually protecting my eyes from damaging UV rays until I recently attended an informative webinar organized by The Vision Council. It turns out that your eyes can get sunburned just as easily as your skin and  wrinkles around the eyes, cataracts and cancer of the eye are all connected to UV eye exposure.

Since I specialize in traveling to sun-drenched locations, I thought it would make sense to learn important UV blocking tips for the eyes. According to The Vision Council's UV Report:

*Although UV protective sunglasses are the best defense against UV-related eye damage, only 40% or adults in the U.S. wear sunglasses outside.

* UV damage is cumulative, which means that daily UV exposures adds up over time, possibly leading to future vision impairment and medical issues.

*UV rays can penetrate the Earth's atmosphere at any time or place but certain locations produce increased risk. San Juan, Puerto Rico, Honolulu, Hawaii and Miami, Florida top the list for the highest UV concentration.

* It's best to avoid direct UV radiation but reflected UV light is just as damaging. Water reflects up to 100% of UV rays, snow up to 85%, and dry sand and concrete up to 25%.

So what to do when traveling to sunny or UV-reflecting locations?

*Purchase UV-protected sunglasses from reputable outlets. This means that vendors along the beach, online auction sites, vintage stores and that guy selling shades on the sidewalk are out. I'm a huge fan of scoring bargains but it turns out that cheap sunglasses offer little value for eye health. Shop eye wear shops, department stores and brands that offer UVA and UVB protection labels.

*Check the label. Sometimes  UVA and UVB  protection stickers can be torn off or switched around. Your optometrist actually has a machine to check just how much UV protection your sunglasses provide.

*A protective carrying case is key. Good quality sunglasses come with cases to protect against scratches and breaks.

*Slather sunscreen on exposed skin, including around eyes and areas not covered by your sunglasses.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by The Vision Council, a non profit organization.