Most people use sunscreen when heading outdoors, but did you know that protecting your eyes from the sun is just as important as shielding your skin?
Ultraviolet rays from the sun damage sensitive cells in and around the eyes. Experts have recommended sunglasses for decades, but not all pay attention to the claims. According to research, it is nearly impossible to isolate the exact amount of damage that ultraviolet radiation has on the eye for long periods of time. The only way to prevent damage is to wear protective eyewear. Sunglasses are a must.
How does the sun damage your eyes?
Eye damage from exposure and overexposure to the sun may occur in the short term and long term. While it can take years before you notice the sun’s damaging effect on your eyes, some problems may arise right away. The most common short-term problems include inflammation of the membrane along the outside of the eye, similar to pink eye. When the eyes feel tired and inflamed following a day at the beach or on the water, you may be suffering from ultraviolet radiation exposure. This is also known as a sunburn of the eye and results in a gritty feeling.
Long-term exposure to the sun may include the development of cataracts, cancer, and other conditions that result in vision loss. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to UV radiation for many years increase the risk of cataract development, as well as other eye diseases and conditions.
Conditions leading to vision loss
Macular degeneration is one of the most common conditions leading to vision loss in America. This condition leads to abnormal blood vessel growth and the development of opaque deposits on the retina. According to research published in The Archives of Ophthalmology, people who spend more than five hours a day in the hot sun while in their teens and twenties, are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration.
Cataracts, the clouding of the eye’s lens that leads to blurred vision and vision loss, is another common condition that occurs over the long-term when exposure to harmful UV rays. Nearly all of the UV light that enters the eye from the sun is absorbed by the cornea and lens. When sunglasses are worn, these problematic eye conditions may be prevented.
How to choose the best sunglasses and reduce risk of eye damage
To provide adequate protection for the eyes, sunglasses are critical. The lenses must be made of polycarbonate material if eye-hazardous work or sports are participated in. These types of lenses provide impact resistance.
For ordinary and everyday use, sunglasses should block out 100 percent of both Ultraviolet-A (UV-A) and UV-B radiation. The glasses should also screen out at least 75 percent of visible light and have lenses that darken for proper color recognition. Lenses should be free of distortion.
Also, if you spend a significant amount of time in the sun, use frames that wrap the sides of the eyes to prevent the rays from hitting the cornea. Wrap around glasses prevent eye damage. This additional protection keeps harmful solar radiation at bay.
Children and teenagers should also wear protective eyewear. Adults typically wear sunglasses, but children do benefit from wearing them.
Are you due for an eye exam? You should have a comprehensive examination at least every two years. For an appointment call us today at Shelby Macomb Vision Associates at 586-803-3152. While here, discuss the options for sunglasses as you shouldn’t leave home without them!