Protruding Eye Sunburns Easily: Protect Bulging Eyes with Wrap-around Sunglasses and Wear that Sunscreen

Last Saturday, May12, 2007, was a big day in the sun for me and my bulging eyeball* got sunburned. (The other eye made it through the day just fine.) Plus, my face got fried.

Wrap-around sunglasses rule!

I started out with a two-hour bike ride, 10am until noon, wearing wrap-around sunglasses—no-name $15 at Long’s Drugstore. (Wrap-arounds work well on the bike. Sometimes they get foggy, but they’re necessary for keeping mud splatters and flying dirt out of your eyes.) So far so good.

The wind was blowing and it was turning into an unusually good day to go windsurfing. Whee! So I was in a hurry to eat lunch (no sitting down enjoying my food this time!) and get my windsurf gear ready.

I should have protected my face: washed** it and re-applied better sunscreen.***

At this point, I should have put more sunscreen on my face, especially since I didn’t do a really thorough job before the bike ride. But I was in too much of a rush. (It’s typically 55 degrees Fahrenheit, so my only body parts not covered in neoprene are face, hands, and feet.)

Usually, where I live, it doesn’t get windy until 2pm, so I’m not out when the sun is strongest. But Saturday, it was windy at 9:30 in the morning, and I was in a frenzy. (For those of you who ski, you’ll understand: It’s like a big powder day and you have to get there and get it all before it’s gone!)

I was at the marina by 1pm and rigging my windsurf gear in the sun. Then I sailed for three hours (from 2pm to 5pm). So I was in the sun all day and my face got sunburned, which hasn’t happened to me for years. It was quite unpleasant and took several days to abate. (No skipping the sunscreen again!)

Protect your eyes with wrap-around sunglasses, if you can.

My windsurfing sunglasses are not the wrap-around style that protects your eyes on all sides. Unfortunately, that kind fogs and gets full of water when you fall, and you fall a lot when you windsurf. The fogging and water-sloshing is irritating and somewhat dangerous, so I wear minimal eye coverage—again, no-name $7.50 at Long’s Drugstore.

My protruding, sunburned eye is much better after several days.

And this is how my protruding eyeball got sunburned—using minimalist eye-wear. The poor thing was scratchy, red, and sore for several days. It’s OK now, but I’ll think twice next time I get a chance to windsurf so early in the afternoon.

* My left eye is good. My right eye bulges out due to Graves Disease. This makes the right eye more vulnerable to the elements.

**It’s important to wash and dry your face before you put on your sunscreen. To work properly, the sunscreen must make a chemical reaction and bond with your skin; this is prevented by your skin’s natural oils or any other products you may be using. Also, it’s necessary to apply the sunscreen20 to 30 minutes before you go out into the sun; this allows time for the chemical reaction.

*** The best sunscreen I’ve found for my face is SolBar PF cream 50, pictured above. It’s broad spectrum (UVB plus UVA) and contains oxybenzone (among its three active ingredients) for long wave ultraviolet protection. (There’s controversy about sunscreen protection claims that I need to review.) I got this first from my dermatologist, then found it at Long’s Drugstore, then didn’t find it at Long’s then went back to my dermatologist for more.

SolBar Zinc I have yet to try. My bet is that it’s better than TJ’s version (see below). By the way, Amazon’s prices on these items are about the same as Long’s. The images are clickable.

The day I got sunburned, I was using Trader Joe’s SPF 30, also broad spectrum but which I did not apply with adequate liberty. TJ’s has oxybenzone, same as SolBar, plus two other ingredients similar in name to the two other ingredients in SolBar. It also has zinc, which is why I bought it. The zinc makes a physical barrier, which should boost this sunscreen’s effectiveness. (The other ingredients would be creating a chemical reaction, but how this protects your skin, I haven’t a clue.) The zinc does make your face kind of white, if you put on the amount you should.

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Copyright 2007-2008 Rosalie Ross. All rights reserved.
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