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Take care when watching eclipse of the sun

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

By Dr. Mark Siegel

On Monday, Aug. 21, the entire United States will see a partial eclipse of the sun. Parts of 11 states will experience a total solar eclipse, including South Carolina. 

If you get a chance to see it, make sure to take care of your vision during the eclipse. 

To see a complete eclipse of the sun, you need to be in the right place. The area that will have a complete eclipse – the path of totality – is only 70 miles wide and will move across the continent very quickly. Plan now for where you want to be. You may want a backup plan in case weather gets in the way of your view of the sky. Beaufort County is NOT in the path of totality, therefore we will only see a partial eclipse.

The only time it is safe to look directly at the sun is when it is completely covered by the moon during the totality phase of the eclipse. You must protect your eyes during the rest of the eclipse or you could damage your retina, possibly causing blindness.

Areas outside the path of totality will have a partial eclipse. Only part of the sun is blocked even at the peak of the eclipse. In those areas, there is no safe time to look at the sun with the naked eye. 

You must protect your eyes while watching the entire eclipse. This would include those of us in Beaufort County.

A truly awe-inspiring event, a solar eclipse is when the moon blocks any part of the sun from our view. The bright face of the sun is covered gradually by the moon during a partial eclipse, lasting a few hours. 

During the brief period of a total eclipse when the moon fully covers the sun (only a couple of minutes), the light of day gives way to a deep twilight sky. The sun’s outer atmosphere (called the solar corona) gradually appears, glowing like a halo around the moon in front of it. Bright stars and planets become more visible in the sky.

Watching a solar eclipse is a memorable experience, but looking directly at the sun can seriously damage your eyes. Staring at the sun for even a short time without wearing the right eye protection can damage your retina permanently. It can even cause blindness, called solar retinopathy.

There is only one safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not: through special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.

Keep in mind that ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, or homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun.

Here are some steps to follow for safely watching a solar eclipse:

• Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.

• Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.

• Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.

• The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.

• Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.

• Talk with an expert astronomer if you want to use a special solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device.

For information about where to get the proper eyewear or handheld viewers, check out the American Astronomical Society. 

NASA will have a live stream of the eclipse that can be watched online, which is exactly what we’ll be doing.

Dr. Mark Siegel is the medical director at Sea Island Ophthalmology at 111 High Tide Drive (off Midtown Drive near Low Country Medical Group). Visit www.seaislandophthalmology.com.

Traffic circle is roundabout of distress

in Cherimie Crane/Contributors/Voices by

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

It is said that change is the one constant in life. Expected, planned and choreographed, change brings about excitement, adventure and even peace.

However, not all change offers reason for ceremonious celebration. 

Small towns handle change as well as overly tired toddlers handle bedtime. We know it is coming; we have seen it before yet we are willing to fight it to the death no matter how much it is needed. Our beautiful town is tossing and turning with the torments of change at every corner.

Steadfast we tightly grasp all that we can with the hopes that not all of our comfort will be conformed towards the unrecognizable realm of development’s dire reach. 

Options intrigue us as long as they are few, improvement romances us as long as it is rightfully romantic and expansion allows us room to protest the parameters of necessary growth. 

All in all, change is a constant we consistently hate. Arguably our very essence is the opposite of change. Our accolades toast our traditional small town charm as they persuade travelers to pack our streets. The smaller we are, the bigger our reach. It’s all quite confusing. 

There is no better example than the Lady’s Island traffic circle. All aspects of humanity can be witnessed as our small town struggles to accept this French-born response to increased attention. 

It is a symphony of confusion that separates men from boys, women from children and manners from mayhem. It’s a roundabout of emotional distress from those that prefer a more direct approach. 

In order to fully appreciate a small town’s response to change, simply find a safe perch and watch as Beaufort’s best attempt to navigate the new right in the middle of the familiar old. Some rush in and navigate with ease, others hesitate for examples of successful survival and the most unwilling forge on, refusing to accept the path has changed. It’s beautiful Beaufort chaos at its best. 

As with all necessary nuisance, the shine will wear off, peace will be restored and for many it will become part of their small town story. But until then commuters will curse, confusion will ensue and we will finally have something, other than sand gnats, that makes our existence less than perfect. Safe travels Beaufort, SC. 

Cherimie Crane Weatherford, owner of SugarBelle boutique, real estate broker and observer of all things momentous and mundane, lives on Lady’s Island with her golfing husband, dancing toddler and lounging dogs.

Become a ‘service human’ for a dog in need

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By Lee Scott

There are dogs in our community that wear special vests. This “service dog” identificatin are lets people know that the dog is working.  

Normally, one does not go up to one of these dogs to pet them. Service dogs are trained to help individuals who have an assortment of issues, like blindness or PTSD. They provide a valuable service to many citizens in our community. 

I do not have a service dog. However, Brandy, our dog, has a “Service Human”: me.   

Brandy was a rescue dog. She had been picked up by Animal Control and spent three months in the hospital before we could adopt her. She was skinny and skittish. The SPCA would not allow her to go to a family with children, because they were not sure how should would behave.

The first time I saw her, I knew she was going to need a “service human,” someone who could love her. I prepared myself for a few months of training (on my part). 

She would “leak” if the television was noisy, the voices were too loud or a stranger came into the house. But like any good “service human” I was there to provide companionship and courage for her to venture out.

The first time she had a seizure, I held her for the 5 minutes as it went on. “You are OK. It’s OK. We are here.” 

We discovered that any lawn chemicals sprayed on our neighbor’s lawn would lead to a seizure. We asked them to just warn us beforehand so we could protect her. I also learned early not to smack flies with a folded newspaper, once I realized how it affected her. I would throw away the newspaper, sit on the floor, hold her and say, “I don’t know who hit you in the past, but I will never hit you.”  

Most people, who have opened their hearts and homes to dogs do not wear vests that identify them as Service Humans, but they are all around us. They are individuals who have taken on the responsibility of a dog that needs to be cared for and loved. 

Some of these dogs have been raised in happy, safe home environments, but they had to be turned into the SPCA. Sometimes it is because their owners could not care for them anymore or maybe because the owner has died. These are very lovable dogs that just need a home. They assimilate very easily. 

So, if you have ever considered becoming a “Service Human,” contact the local rescue shelter. There may be a rescue dog out there that really needs you.

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Fun camping trip turns into nightmare

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

By Bill Rauch

I love my extended family.

So much so, in fact, that I agreed to go camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Brevard, N.C., with one of my extended family brothers and his children last week. We would be seven: three adults and four children. His children and ours, all four between 9 and 13 years of age, are best buddies.

It was an experience to remember … to remember in the future to avoid.

This wasn’t the first time. Over the 2015 Memorial Day weekend the same group had likewise set off together for the Mt. Pisgah National Forest, which is a spectacularly beautiful — and correspondingly popular — place. Because my brother was several hours delayed getting off from Beaufort for the 2015 adventure, we got to the park late and every last camping spot — legal or otherwise — was taken. So we stayed in a motel for the weekend which diminished somewhat the communing with nature experience.

But, our wounds healed and determined to recoup, with high hopes and great enthusiasm we set our sights once again last weekend on Brevard .

This time we got off from Beaufort more or less on time but suffered a setback when just outside Columbia, which is about halfway to the mountains, the fuel pump in my brother’s truck hit the skids. Luckily we were in two trucks so we squeezed his children and all their gear into our truck with us (and our big dog!) and we moved on while he stayed behind to deal with the fuel pump.

A good man with good ideas and strongly-held views, as we were pulling off my brother gave us specific instructions as to which campsite was our destination. Those instructions were: “Go up the road to the fish hatchery. Pass it. Soon thereafter the road turns to dirt and there are turn-offs to the left. Park there. Climb down the little hill to the little trout stream. Step across it and pick the one you like from the several campsites that are there.”

That sounded absolutely perfect and non-debatable, especially to the boys who had their fishing poles and were determined to catch dinner.

My wife says it always rains in the North Carolina mountains — at least when she’s there — and it had been raining apparently in her absence as well, because when we got there the “little trout stream” was up to its historic banks and tumbling fiercely down its course.

Of course there’s no cell service in the mountains, so if we moved campsites we knew my brother couldn’t find us. So we decided to man up, form with the children a six-person human chain to pass both families’ gear across the river, and thusly press on.

By the time my brother arrived in a jelly bean rental car at about sundown we had the campsite humming, including stringing up a clothesline to dry all the wet clothes, and the children cheerfully warming up with cocoa around the campfire.

Saturday morning’s much-anticipated sounds of the woods and the stream were interrupted unexpectedly by police sirens, but we didn’t think much of that. 

We took a big afternoon hike at the end of which my brother suggested we take the children just outside the park’s gate for ice cream cones at the ice cream parlor there. Funny, we noticed on our way out, there were no cars in the oncoming lane, and also out of the ordinary was that there was a police barricade and a sheriff’s deputy at the gate. After parking at the ice cream parlor, while the others got their ice cream, I walked over to talk to the deputy.

He was turning all the cars, and the pedestrians, and the bikers and the bicyclists around and not letting them into the park. To one guy he explained very carefully how to get to Tennessee. Seeing this, I said, “We just came out to get ice cream. We can get back in, right?”

“No,” the deputy said very gently. “It’s not safe. We’re getting everyone out. There’s a dangerous fugitive in there and he’s armed.”

“But our stuff’s all in there.  We’ve got our whole campsite set up.”

“Well, it shouldn’t be long,” the deputy said. “We’ve got some great recent intel and now he’s boxed in.” 

That was at about 6 p.m. Saturday. We put our heads together and decided we’d go over to the local brewery until 7:30 and then check back with the deputy.

You know the rest.

That night we had to drive an hour plus to find hotel rooms because all the other campers who had been kicked out of the park had an hour-and-a-half head start on us. Plus we had a dog — a big dog.

It rained hard that night, and on Sunday and on Sunday night. We pictured in our minds our cozy campsite. But we certainly couldn’t get to it. If the fugitive was boxed in, it was with a very big box.

Incidentally, Mt. Pisgah, if you haven’t reviewed your Bible recently, is the place from which Moses was shown the Promised Land, but he wasn’t allowed to go there.

There was one piece of good luck … if you can call it that because it very nearly killed me.

My brother and his two children headed back to Beaufort in the rental car on Sunday afternoon with just the same old hiking clothes they’d had on their backs since Saturday morning. Clothed similarly, we found a closer-by hotel for Sunday night and went to see “Dunkirk” at the movie theater in Brevard, which was probably the best thing that happened all weekend.

On our way back to Beaufort on Monday morning we stopped by the park entrance.

There an amazing thing happened. The deputy on duty turned us away, but there was a Transylvania County fire marshal there who overheard my story and asked me where our campground was. When I told him he said, “Oh they’ve got the gunman boxed in way away from there. I’m off in about 45 minutes. I’ll take you in if you can be quick.”

I swore to this lovely man: “We’ll be quick.” Forgive me, sir. I know you understand.

After two days of rain the little trout stream was now a raging torrent. The human chain didn’t have a chance because we were down two hands. Given the increased volume of water, it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. The children would have had to have been college football players.

All the camping gear — especially my brother’s whose tent had leaked badly — was completely soaked. It weighed a ton.

Piece by piece my wife and I carried (swam?) soaking wet comforters, pillows, sleeping bags, tents, and wads of clothes (not to mention coolers, bags of trash, frying pans, hatchets, air mattresses and bicycle pumps) across the ice-slick rocks and through the torrent. As a gesture of thanks — and because there wasn’t a square inch of room for it in the truck! — we were going to give the fire marshal a watermelon we’d brought with us, but it was lost downstream.

Neither we, nor the truck which still smells of wet, nor probably the nice fire marshal who gave us nearly three hours of his time have fully recovered yet.

I love my extended family. And love means not keeping score. But I’m off Mt. Pisgah. 

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

Good neighbors share emergency info

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

A friend of mine had an accident recently, and because she lives alone, I decided to follow the ambulance to the hospital. 

Driving along it dawned on me that I had no idea how to get in touch with any of her relatives. I have met her daughters, but did not even know their last names, much less have their contact information. One would think that after three years of friendship, I would have at least one telephone number to call.  

As she and I sat there in the emergency room, we discovered that neither one of us could make a phone call. The hospital was a dead zone. Then when she left to get some X-rays, a song started playing in my head. I began to hum.

“There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza.” The response is: “Then fix it, dear Georgie, dear Georgie, dear Georgie.”

The message was clear: Fix it, Lee.  

I spotted the “free wi-fi” sign and grabbed both of our phone chargers and plugged them in. At least we could text people.  

Picking up her phone, I thought I could locate her contacts or recent calls, but her Android phone operates differently from mine. I did not even know how to turn it on.  

When she came back to the room, she gave me her daughter’s number and I left the hospital to make the call.

Afterwards, I said to her, “You know we should both have each other’s family names and phone numbers. If anything happened to my husband and me, how would you know who to contact?” 

Then I told her that even my best friend, Christine, who knows all about my kids, does not have my relative’s contact information and they do not have hers. The only person in possession of my emergency contact information is Bonnie, my dog sitter. Why it had never dawned on me to give it to other people is beyond me.  

When I got home that day my husband said, “It’s probably not a bad idea to put some emergency numbers on the refrigerator. There are times when we travel and if there was any kind of problem with the house, relatives could get notified.”

We tend to not think of these issues when everything is normal; when there are no emergencies around. But in that time, when reaching out to family members or friends is critical, it would not hurt to provide friends with relatives’ names and vice-versa. Because you see, Georgie and Liza, you might just want to fix that hole in the bucket before you really need it.

Festival reminds us to enjoy life

in Cherimie Crane/Contributors/Voices by

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

In present society where the definition of social has morphed into one-sided conversations with a photo and a screen, our sleepy little town reminds us of the joys of face-to-face, value in congregation and powerful pull of the sea.  

Few occasions show human nature, soul simplicity and signs of a gentler time more than when a city celebrates as one. 

One of those rare wrinkles in time belongs to none other than the Beaufort Water Festival. If you question the power of a social contagion, or the beauty of human nature, pack up your pessimism, sit back and absorb the enigma that is our beloved annual festival.

Watch stress-drained men trade in the business suits for the lighter weight of board shorts, well-meaning moms trade in fabric stitched in obligation and patterned in responsibility for skin-baring bikinis that replace years with youth and vitality. 

Even if just for a few hours, maybe a few days, the shrimper, the crabber, the lawyer and the preacher become simply Beaufortonians. The shackles of roles and responsibility merge into rivers of freedom, folly and wardrobe faux pas. 

Greetings change from the required and rote “How are you?” to an enthusiastic “Happy Water Festival!” Days turn to nights, nights turn to stories and those stories turn into folklore.

Time clocks and time sheets become a bit more forgiving. Differences disperse as the winds of well-wishes blow forth. Blue collar, white collar inevitably becomes no collar as the Water Festival is the great equalizer. 

The only division is whether your chicken is a six piece and your swimsuit a two. The worry over current events, the weight of a world longing for laughter and the reality that tomorrow brings battles of varying degree all take reprieve on a blanket in the park. 

A couple in their 60s will shag under the stars toe-to-toe with a pair at 16. Long love, new love, renewed love finds itself along the water’s edge.

Visitors question their own way of life as they observe with envy the sweet, slow summer nights that lead to warm mornings full of events and celebration that showcase that which can’t be simulated, only experienced. Music echoes off our shores as life happens under the stars. 

Land-locked laments fade as toes and woes submerge in saltwater and sand. Focus on troubles take second place to focus on tides. Desk chairs empty and deck chairs fill. Quiet souls who hide behind societal norms unite on the sandbar to shine like polished pennies. 

Monday morning will come soon enough. There will be plenty of time to excuse away momentary mishaps and questionable quandaries. 

For now, let your hair down, lift your spirits, ditch the shoes, lose the shirt, tap dance through the day, shag through the night, and douse the day-to-day dread with real life, real moments and real smiles. It’s time to celebrate all that we are and all that we love. 

Happy Water Festival Beaufort South Carolina from my family to yours!

Cherimie Crane Weatherford, owner of SugarBelle boutique, real estate broker and observer of all things momentous and mundane, lives on Lady’s Island with her golfing husband, dancing toddler and lounging dogs.

How to be a great mother-in-law

in Bill Rauch/Contributors/Voices by

The funeral service for my mother-in-law, Peggy Sanford Peyton, was held last week.

I’m certain there are a lot of guys who in their private-most thoughts have been good with seeing their mothers-in-law put 6-feet under, especially in those cases where in her later years the mother-in-law had moved in.

I’m not one of them.

In the course of the recent services and receptions and other gatherings since Peg’s (we called her “Peg”) passing, I’ve been asked about how it was to live with her.

Here’s the secret to her success. 

Peg spent a couple of years as a single woman in New York at the Juilliard School during World War II, and four years as a single American woman completing her schooling in Paris in the years immediately after World War II. She didn’t speak much about those years, but I suspect she saw a lot of life at a crucial time in her life then. Being a sophisticated person means a lot more than knowing which dress or necktie to wear, when to pick up which fork, the difference between prosecco and rococo and Chopin and Cezanne. It also means having seen situations that look good go bad, and finding to your surprise things that start badly that end up well.

That was Peg. A sophisticated woman, she had seen too much to be caught off-base. She was devotedly non-judgmental.

What she wanted from life was just, well … life. Peg loved parties because she loved action. That’s what brought the glint to the eye. 

There’s more.

As a grandmother, she understood that her children and their spouses were already fully-baked. So she concentrated on her grandchildren, of which as her years increased she had many. In this pursuit Peg had one speed only: full blast positive. In her eyes her grandchildren could do no wrong. One sobbing in wet pants and diapers, the other caked in mud and spitting mad, these were the very best children in the firmament.

There’s more.

Peg pitched in. Even when you knew she hurt (and she would never say she did) she would clear tables, fold laundry, put things right. It was easy to say to her with utter sincerity that she’d put in her time raising four children, that now it was time for her to rest and for the children and the grandchildren to pick up the slack. It didn’t matter. If there was something to be done, Peg was on it. But she never kept score the way some people — especially children — do. It was never “Well I just emptied the dishwasher, so how about you feed the dogs.”

Not once.

Then there was the piano. When it comes to live-in grandparents, war heroes should occasionally tell war stories, ballplayers should when the time’s right play ball with the kids, great cooks should from time to time show the uninitiated around the kitchen, and musicians should in moderation play their favorite music. A concert pianist, Peg could knock out Chopin, Bach, Mozart and Rachmaninoff tunes right up to the end. If her memory sometimes let her down, her piano never did.

We’re the worse for your leaving us, Peg. But there’s a coming home party and a bunch of your long-lost pals awaiting you where you’re going. 

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

Who needs crosswords puzzles to stay sharp?

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

There are numerous reports out today stating that seniors can stimulate their brains by completing crossword puzzles and playing games. These are called mental workouts and they push people to challenge themselves. 

However, it has come to my attention that I will never have to do another crossword puzzle again to keep my brain functioning.  All I have to do is drive a rental car, go into a new restaurant or use a public restroom.  

Let me explain. 

It happened recently with a rental car. Instead of a normal key, I was given a key fob. All I had to do was push a button to get the car started. Right away, I knew I would have to figure out where everything was in the car. 

The radio was placed nicely in the dashboard as normal, however, the controls were on a panel between my driver’s seat and the passenger seat. That meant instead of glancing straight ahead to change the station, I would have to look down at buttons and figure out how to change the station. I challenged myself to set it up before I left the parking lot. 

Crossword puzzle question: “What is a ten- letter word for frustrated?”

Answer: “Grrrrrrrrr!”

Then as I was driving away a voice said, “In one half mile take a left on Beach Road.” Oh dear, it was a navigation system. And she was talking over my newly programmed radio station giving me the weather update at precisely the same time. I pulled over and discovered the button controlling my radio, also had a NAV control switch. I shut her off.  

Crossword puzzle question: “What is a three-letter word for navigational system?”  

Answer: “Map.”

Next a stop is at a restaurant for lunch. There was obviously an automatic door, I know because it said, “automatic door.” But the question was: Do I walk right up to it and wait, or is there a button to push? Can I just push the door open?  

Then there are the public restrooms. Are you familiar with those sinks where you are not sure if you are just supposed to stick your hands under the faucet for water or are you supposed to push a button? Same problem with the soap dispensers? And do not get me started on those air machines where you stick your hands in and watch as your skin starts to flap.   

Yes, you can forget about the crossword puzzles. We now live in a world where automatic machines challenge us every day.  

At this rate, my body will run out way before my mind.

Welcome to summer in the Sea Islands

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

The other day while chatting with a friend on the phone, she wondered what I was up to and I said, “Enjoying this beautiful day.”  

“Where are you?” she asked. 

“At home,” I replied. 

To which she answered, “It is pouring rain here.” 

We only live about a mile apart.  

Welcome to summer in the Sea Islands! It happens a lot during these hot July and August days. When the weatherman says “50 percent chance of scattered showers,” he really means it. Scattered means it is going to rain somewhere.  

You may have noticed it when leaving sunny Beaufort and driving down to Bluffton. You start to see cars coming at you with their headlights on and windshield wipers going. Sure enough, rain. 

I have found it raining on one side of Sea Island Parkway, only to drive over Cowan Bridge and not a drop of rain has fallen. Sometimes it is torrential rain too, with the tires throwing off water higher than the car windows and I know if I can just get over the little bridge I will be out of it. 

Which brings me to planning a picnic or an outside barbecue. Relax. Do not cancel your summer party. It is probably going to rain at some point, or somewhere, but it just might not at all. 

It happened to us the other night while preparing to grill on our back porch.  We were looking out our window at the blue sky when we started to hear thunder. Then the waving American flag at the end of the dock shifted from the south to flying from the west. I looked out the front door. Sure enough, something was coming.  

We began our thunderstorm prep. We put the umbrella down and moved the dinnerware back into the house.  

It started to get dark, the wind howled, there was thunder and lightning, and then, nothing, not a drop of rain. Within a half an hour any evidence of a storm was gone. We should have known. 

We try to track some of these storms on the weather radar. If the storm is west of Hilton Head, they seem to skim Beaufort and miss us altogether. (although Edisto might get hammered). But these summer pop-up storms have a mind of their own. Let’s face it. When the thermometer hits 94 degrees there is a good chance that a storm will build up somewhere. 

The question is always, “Is it going to hit my house during my summer barbecue?” 

The answer is: It might. It might not. Let’s just say, you have a 50 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms today.

Enjoy summer sun, but protect eyes from UV rays

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

By Dr. Mark Siegel

We all use sunscreen to protect our skin, but don’t forget to protect your eyes as well. 

Summertime means more time spent outdoors, and studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts and growths on the eye, including cancer. 

The same risk applies when using tanning beds, so be sure to protect your eyes from indoor UV light as well. Sunlight reflected off sand and water can cause photokeratitis, the condition responsible for snow blindness, so beach- and pool-goers take note.

UV radiation, whether from natural sunlight or indoor artificial rays, can damage the eye’s surface tissues as well as the cornea and lens.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the dangers UV light can pose. 

By wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, you can enjoy the summer safely while lowering your risk for potentially blinding eye diseases and tumors. 

It is important to start wearing proper eye protection at an early age to protect your eyes from years of ultraviolet exposure.

According to a national Sun Safety Survey conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, only about half of people who wear sunglasses say they check the UV rating before buying. The good news is that you can easily protect yourself. 

In order to be eye smart in the sun, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following:

• Wear sunglasses labeled “100 percent UV protection”: Use only glasses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays and that are labeled either UV400 or 100 percent UV protection.

• Choose wraparound styles so that the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.

• If you wear UV-blocking contact lenses, you’ll still need sunglasses.

• Wear a hat along with your sunglasses; broad-brimmed hats are best.

• Remember the kids: It’s best to keep children out of direct sunlight during the middle of the day. Make sure they wear sunglasses and hats whenever they are in the sun.

• Know that clouds don’t block UV light: The sun’s rays can pass through haze and clouds. Sun damage to the eyes can occur any time of year, not just in summer.

• Be extra careful in UV-intense conditions: Sunlight is strongest mid-day to early afternoon, at higher altitudes and when reflected off of water, ice or snow.

By embracing these simple tips you and your family can enjoy the summer sun safely while protecting your vision.

Dr. Mark Siegel is the medical director at Sea Island Ophthalmology at 111 High Tide Drive (off Midtown Drive near Low Country Medical Group). Visit www.seaislandophthalmology.com.

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