One Little Thing Can Protect Your Long-Term Vision
We’re never lacking in the sunshine category in our parts. Most people appreciate the way sunshine can warm the body on even on a cool day, and how the longer days of summer invite us to spend more time outside than inside. At the same time, we’ve been told that we need to be mindful about our sun exposure. Most people recognize that too much time in the sun could lead to an uncomfortable sunburn. Some even know that one-too-many sunburns increase the risk of premature aging and skin cancer. Where we fall short is talking about how the UV light in sunshine can degrade eyesight.
How Ultraviolet Affects the Eyes
There are two ways that the eyes may be impacted by ultraviolet rays in sunshine. While there are numerous wavelengths of light emitted by the sun, there is particular concern related to UVA and UVB light. These wavelengths come through the atmosphere at full strength and are therefore intense enough to have negative effects on the skin as well as the eyes. According to studies, UV light is a contributing factor to problems including:
- Photokeratitis. It may come as a surprise to hear that sunlight can cause sunburn in the eye. Photokeratitis describes temporary inflammation in the eye as a reaction to intense light exposure. People who water-ski, surf, or fish may have a higher risk for this uncomfortable problem.
- Pterygia. The same type of exposure that could cause sunburn in the eye can also lead to fleshy growths to form on the surface of the eye. Pterygia are not usually medically concerning but they can be a cosmetic problem and, if they grow large or too near the cornea, they may obstruct vision.
- Cataracts. Protein accumulation on one or both eye lenses may occur for a number of reasons. Cataracts do not usually develop until later in life but may stem from factors such as frequent sun exposure years prior.
- Age-related macular degeneration. Don’t let the name fool you, age-related macular degeneration, a vision-threatening condition, has several factors that may instigate the breakdown of the back of the eye. Sun exposure is one of them.
What Your Eyes Really Need
If you haven’t already guessed it, what your eyes really need is to have light filtered with sunglasses. It used to be that sunglasses were a fashion statement. Now, they are a necessary accessory for people of all ages to prevent unnecessary damage to the structure of their eyes. Your eyes begin to reap protective benefits the moment you make wearing sunglasses a habit. Just be sure to choose lenses with 100 percent UV filtering.
Do you want to know more about your current eye health? Schedule a comprehensive eye exam in our Pasadena, TX office by calling (713) 473-5715.