Several years ago, I made a drastic move. After growing up in Michigan for most of my life, I tossed a couple of suitcases, the computer, the kids and the family pets in the car and drove down to Florida. Right from the start, I was amazed. Unlike many children who get to go to Disney, I hadn’t been since I was a baby, so the closest I’d really come to encountering palm trees was watching Miami Vice. Was it just me or were the colors so much more vivid and vibrant?
After living in Michigan and it’s different weather conditions, I was completely unprepared for Florida and all the changes I would have to make over the years. A bad case of blistered and peeling sunburn taught me to be wary of swimming in the Gulf, even when it did seem like it was an overcast day. I learned to not swim near snot bubbles in the water (those were JELLYFISH??) and to shuffle my feet when I walked in the shallows. Another valuable lesson I learned? Always wear sunglasses. Here I thought the Floridians were obsessed with making fashion statements. Turns out they aren’t trying to look cool…they’re protecting their eyes.
Protecting Your Eyes from the Florida Sun
Two things in Florida that are bound to get you (spiders, snakes and gators aside) – the sun and the heat. The sun can be almost blinding at times, causing you to squint and try to avoid the glare. I’m terrible when it comes to forgetting my sunglasses, and boy do I pay for it! Not only does the constant squinting help you develop those annoying little crow’s feet wrinkles at the corners of your eyes, the dangerous UV rays can actually burn your eyes and lead to the development of cataracts. Cataracts usually require medication and, quite often, costly surgery to repair. You definitely don’t want that! Be sure to protect your eyes and find a good pair of sunglasses that are labeled as offering 100% UVA/UVB protection – they come in all different styles and colors, so there are bound to be some that you like. Personally, I prefer wrap-around dark glasses, as they prevent any glare from getting in at the corners of my eyes.
And if you’re forgetful, like me? Get one of those trendy cords that goes around your neck and attaches to your glasses. Then you don’t have to worry about misplacing or leaving them anywhere. You might also put a couple of extra pairs in the glove box of your car too – that way, we always have glasses, should we decide to stop (or get stranded) somewhere.
Preventing Florida Dry Eye
Another problem I’ve discovered, living in Florida, is that the heat plays havoc with your eyes. It doesn’t take long, out in the heat, before your eyes can begin to feel tired, sore and can sometimes get a burning or gritty sensation. You wake up in the morning and they feel tired and gritty still. What a horrible sensation!
For this, we’ve found it’s very helpful to always carry a bottle of Visine or, my personal favorite – Natural Tears, around. Keeping your eyes from drying out will help to reduce the chances of scratches or burns on your eye and definitely make you feel more comfortable. You’d be surprised how much better it makes you feel, just after putting a couple of drops in!
Whether you are planning a move down to Florida or just coming down for some vacation time with Mickey and Minnie, remember to protect yourself from sunburn, but don’t forget your eyes. An inexpensive pair of sunglasses and a small bottle of eye drops can save you a fortune down the road.