July is recognized as UV Safety Month by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Black Hills State University alum and Rapid City-based ophthalmologist, Dr. Rebecca Linquist, shares tips to keep your eyes safe this summer.
Linquist graduated from BHSU in 2004 with a degree in psychology. She grew up in Sturgis. She completed residency in ophthalmology at the University of Kansas after earning her medical degree. While at BHSU, Linquist served in the National Guard. She was deployed to Bosnia in 2002 and worked with medical evacuation and flight operations.
Protecting your eyes from UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun is important throughout the year – both on the sunniest of summer days and off the reflection of snow in the winter.
“Look for 100 percent UV-blocking sunglasses. Studies show long-term exposure to the sun increases cataracts and growths on the eye, even cancer,” said Linquist.
Sunglasses protect your eyes from aging-related changes, but Linquist said cheap sunglasses might not have 100 percent UV-protection. “Name brands are generally more trusted with the protection level,” she said. Wearing hats can also help and Linquist reiterates the age-old wisdom to “never look directly at the sun.”
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, ophthalmologists are physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care. They diagnose and treat all eye diseases. Linquist has worked as an ophthalmologist in Rapid City since 2013.
She said summertime tends to bring more “foreign body” eye issues into her office with patients getting hit in the eye with balls, twigs or rocks injuring the eye during lawn mowing, and allergies causing discomfort.
If you increase the brightness level on your phone when you’re outside, remember to turn it back down. “You can give your eyes a rest from smartphones, computers, and TV by focusing on something in the distance,” said Linquist, suggesting that people take breaks every 20 minutes when using screen technologies.
“Eye injuries are preventable,” said Linquist. “Vision damage from eye conditions like glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can also be prevented under the care of an eye doctor."