Summer is in full swing, the days are longer, the sun is hotter, the beach is calling, and out comes the sunscreen. We lather up for full-body protection, but wait! What about our eyes? Did you know that it’s just as important to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays as it is to protect your skin? Your eyelids and the skin around your eyes are among the thinnest and most sensitive on your body. Many people are concerned about the effects of the sun on their extremities, but they shouldn’t lose sight of what the sun can do to their eyes.
Have you ever experienced a sunburn of the eye? If so, you may have experienced a condition known as photokeratitis whichcan be very painful, causing blurred vision, light sensitivity, and the sensation of having sand in your eye. It can be caused by several hours of intense UV ray exposure. One can prevent photokeratitis from developing on your eyes by wearing sunglasses with UV protection. Beware: direct sunlight can be extremely damaging to eyes, whether it be 30 degrees in the winter or 95 degrees in the summer.
The intense ultraviolet/UV light of the sun can damage the sensitive cells in the eyes, which may lead to vision loss. Experts say that it is difficult to isolate the exact amount of damage radiation can impose on the eyes over a long period of time. A number of studies have shown that the effects build up and may increase the chance of developing eye problems later in life such as cataracts, macular degeneration, eye cancer and also pterygiums (non-cancerous eye growth) which may require surgical removal.
Staring at the sun at any time is a definite no-no! This can cause holes in the retina, the light sensitive layer of cells in the back of the eye used for clear vision. This condition is known as solar retinopathy which is rare, but any vision loss due to this is irreversible.
What should we do to protect our eyes? Sunglasses are a must, and they have become a huge market. So many brands, styles, colors, shapes – how do you choose? Some helpful tips are:
- Sunglasses should be polarized (UV protection included).
- Wrap around glasses help to protect the eye from UV from the side.
- Lens colors are a personal choice.
- Protect eyes at an early age – we are never too young to begin utilizing eye protection. We urge parents to protect infants’ and children’s eyes from the sun at all times.
Being outdoors and enjoying the sunshine is wonderful and should be enjoyed whether you are gardening, playing golf, relaxing at the pool or running in the surf. Put on those polarized sunglasses, lather on the sunscreen and top your head with a hat – then get out and enjoy your summer.
Summit Eye Care is available to answer any questions you may have concerning any eye care problems.
Call 336-765-0960 to speak with one of our eyecare team.