It’s July, or as I like to call it, the season for sun, fun, and the outdoors. While these three words may make you crave an iced tea by the pool, they should also make you grab a good pair of sunglasses. During the summer months, ultraviolet radiation is three times higher than in the winter, which can damage your eyesight if you are not careful. There are many options to personalize your sunglasses to make them an accessory you wouldn’t want to leave your home without. So, without further ado, it’s time for you to take a second glance at your ocular health and look at how to protect your eyes.
Invest in a Good Pair of SunglassesYou may think, “I can just stop by a convenience store and pick up a cheap pair of sunglasses.” That decision could be a dangerous one. Purchasing cheap, low-quality sunglasses can harm your eyes more than if you wore no sunglasses at all. The pupils of your eyes have a natural defense against harsh light and will contract, but will open more in shaded and low light situations. Sunglasses shade your pupils, but cheap sunglasses will shade the eye AND allow dangerous UV rays into your eyes. When you select sunglasses, it is good to remember:
- Dark lenses do not mean your eyes are better protected
- Only purchase sunglasses with 100-percent UVA and UVB protection indicated on the label
- Larger lenses are a larger shield for your skin and eyes
What is Ultraviolet Radiation?Sunlight is made up of many different kinds of light rays. The most damaging to human skin and eyes is ultraviolet (UV). Two basic types of UV rays are UVA and UVB.
- Ultraviolet A Rays: The most common wavelength from the sun is UVA and accounts for 95% of our radiation. This ray is present during all daylight hours and can move through glass and clouds to cause severe damage to your central vision. Sunlight has about 500 times more UVA rays than UVB rays.
- Ultraviolet B Rays: UVB causes the outermost layer of the eye (the cornea and the lens) to absorb the most rays and can cause the most damage to these areas.
How Much Damage Can UV Rays Do to Your Eyes?UVA and UVB rays can cause a variety of eye problems (discussed below), which can lead to blindness and other complications.
- Photokeratitis is an inflammation or swelling of the cornea with people experiencing pain, redness, and vision obstruction. This condition often referred to as “sunburn of the eye,” can occur from lack of sun protection and can even occur with intense sun reflection from snow or a body of water.
- Macular degeneration affects more than 10 million Americans and is the leading cause of vision loss. This incurable disease causes deterioration of the retina, the vision encoding area of the eye. Macular degeneration has three stages: Early AMD, which causes non-recognizable symptoms; Intermediate AMD, with little to no vision loss; and Late AMD, characterized by noticeable vision loss. Evidence shows exposure to UV rays is a contributing cause for contracting macular degeneration.
- Cataracts cause the eye to form clouded lenses that can blur the vision. Although this illness typically occurs late in life, sun exposure puts people at risk for this condition.
- Pterygium is a white growth on the cornea, which causes scarring and may lead to vision loss and distortion. Those who live in areas with high sunlight exposure can experience this condition. Surgery is a viable solution to pterygium. Pterygium, however, has a high chance of re-occurrence after removal.
- Skin Cancer can occur on the delicate skin of your eyelid and surrounding area.