When heading out in the summer sun, our mental checklist should always include sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. But why should your checklist have sunglasses on it, and why exactly is it so important to keep those baby blues protected?
UVA and UVB rays are harmful, invisible rays of light energy that are emitted from the sun. They pass through our ozone layer 365 days a year, even on cloudy days.
The sunlight that reaches us is made up of two types of harmful rays: long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin’s thickest layer.
Yes, these light rays can cause damage to our skin and eyes.
Absorption of too much ultraviolet light can lead to cataracts (more on this below), retinal changes and degeneration, growths on the surface of the eye (pinguecula, pterygia, conjunctival nevi).
Everyone! However, individuals with lighter colored eyes and skin are typically at higher risk for these conditions as they have less protective pigment to absorb the ultraviolet rays.
Reflective surfaces also increase UV exposure, making sun protection essential when you’re swimming at the pool, cruising in a boat on the lake, or lounging at the beach.
Some medications can also increase light sensitivity. It is important to check with your prescribing provider to ensure you take extra measures when out in the sun if you are taking any of those medications.
Thankfully we have many options in place, from childhood on, to protect our eyes. For example: Modern glasses have UV protection built into the lenses, as do some brands of contact lenses. Intraocular implants used to replace our lenses during cataract surgery all have a UV protectant built in to them.
Sunglasses are still important even with these innovations, and can be found in just about any shape, size, color, and price point.
Lenses that boast blockage of UVA and UVB light are ideal. Polarized lenses are great for people who are out on water or do a lot of driving, however they do not necessarily provide increased UV protection. We recommend working with your eye care provider to see which lens is best for you!
The sun’s rays are most intense during the Spring and Summer months, but it is important to remember to protect your eyes even during the Fall and Winter.
Cataracts are typically caused by the natural aging process. However, harmful sun exposure from UV rays can speed up the process, or make it worse. Read more about symptoms of Cataracts.
It is important to keep in mind that good vision does not equal good eye health unless confirmed via a thorough eye examination.
The American Optometric Association suggests annual eye exams for those over 65 years of age, every one to two years for adults, and every year for children when they are in school.
Milan Eye Center has state of the art equipment and highly trained physicians to diagnose, monitor, and treat conditions associated with UV damage and for your specific needs in Lasik Eye Surgery and Cataract Surgery. We, with the use of the recommendations above, would like to protect your eyesight now and for your future.
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About the author: Milan Eye Center is a leading provider of Cataract Surgery, Lasik Eye Surgery, Eye Lid Surgery and other Eye Care Needs.