LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - As East Texans head outdoors this summer, they may be leaving behind a very important protective piece.
Every year, thousands of Americans have eye issues as a result of little or no protection from the sun. East Texas News talked to a Lufkin eye doctor to see what dangers await people when they go outside in the summer.
"We are really good about putting on sunscreen," said Carmon Roberts, an optometrist at the Center for Sight in Lufkin. "We hear that all the time, but sometimes we forget about our eyes."
That's right. Every summer, Americans hit the beaches and other outdoor activities without proper eye protection.
"Things that can happen from UV exposure are cataracts, macular degeneration of the retina and you can actually get a sun burn," Roberts said.
Eye sunburns can be just as painful as a sun burn on your back.
"It's very painful," Roberts said. "There is a lot of dryness to the eye."
An increasing amount of eye problems have doctors screaming "protection, protection."
"Things that we need to look for our glasses that have 99 to 100 percent UV protection," Roberts said. "We need to make sure that the frame is large enough to cover the whole eye area and a wrap around is also good."
There are other options if a pair of shades is not around.
"My family and I spend a lot of time outside, so my husband, and I are good about wearing our sunglasses, but it's hard to keep glasses on a 4-year-old even though he has them." Roberts said "A hat with about a three-inch brim can protect you from UV rays."
Roberts gave one last warning.
"Don't be fooled by clouds or low sunlight," Roberts said. "The danger of UV rays is always there. "It's deceptive. It's exactly the same as sunscreen. You can't forego sunscreen on a cloudy day. You need to wear your glasses on a cloudy day as well."
Roberts said travelers going south are more at a risk for eye damage. People with lighter colored eyes are more at risk as well.