How often do you actually wear sunglasses? A recent study revealed that about 31% of American’s wear sunglasses. Only 31%! We should be using sunglasses anytime we are outside. By not wearing protection for your eyes, you are putting yourself at major risk for a multitude of eye diseases. Did you know that your eye’s can even suffer from sunburn, just like your skin can? Sun burn to the eye is more commonly known as Snow-blindness or Photokeratitis. People living in areas where they are exposed to the sun reflecting off of the snow and especially in areas that are closer to the equator are more prone to Photokeratitis.
Be sure to wear sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses when you know you’ll be spending a lot of time outside for ultimate protection against harmful UV rays. For those who don’t like the inconvenience of having something on their face at all times, find the right pair of shades that suit your everyday needs by consulting an Optician.
One of the coolest ways to protect your eyes are sunglasses! It’s always fun to pick out something that defines your style but also protects your eyes. When you are on your search for your next pair of sunglasses, it’s important to know the difference between a tinted lens that offers UV-protection and a polarized lens.
When sunlight is absorbed, it can reflect in many different directions. When rays are reflected off a horizontal surface, it is reflected back horizontally, which causes glare. Horizontal surfaces can be as simple as the ground, pavement or water. A tinted lens provides very basic protection for the eyes and helps with vertical and horizontal reflections, but tint doesn’t completely eliminate all glare. Polarized lenses filter out all components of glare by completely knocking out horizontal and vertical rays, which is glare produced off of all surfaces. It is almost the most noticeable when on the water, hence why most fishermen have pretty heavy-duty sunglasses. Fishermen will even have sunglasses that wrap around the face, which blocks any light coming in from behind the head as well. Another option to consider would be adding backside anti-reflective coating to your glasses. This is a coating put on the side of the lens closest to your eye that will deflect any light coming from behind.
Also, children are probably the most susceptible to overexposure to the sun. They typically have bigger pupils and a clearer lens (allowing more sun to come into the eye). Children tend to spend more time in the sun overall too which heightens their risk for damage to the eyes. However, realistically speaking, it is understandable that children almost never like having hats or sunglasses on… Getting them comfortable at an early age wearing protective devices is the only advice we can give!
Major Side Effects of Overexposure to the Sun
For starters… Cataracts. It has been proposed that oxidative stress from the sun can cause damage and even cataracts to the eye. Our lens is located behind our cornea, the initial layer on the eyeball. The lens is composed mostly of water and proteins. Its lack of organelles renders the lens transparent, which enables the lens to transmit light. When a cataract begins to form, those proteins inside the lens cell show signs of oxidative damage and then become clumped together, scattering light rather than transmitting it. Cataracts give the eye a cloudy appearance and as they spread throughout the eye they start to block vision. In fact, cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in adults over 40 and the leading cause of blindness in the world.
Pterygium, or commonly known as surfer’s eye, is a pinkish, triangular growth on the conjunctiva and attaches itself to the pupil. Pterygium typically occurs on the side near the nose and grows inward onto the pupil. Although, it is a benign growth and noncancerous, the growth can still cause blurred vision. If the growth happens to attach itself on the cornea it could potentially change the shape of the cornea, which affects the way light is transmitted to the retina. A precursor of pterygium is pinguecula.
When I asked our newest doctor at Optique, Dr. Raley, about why eyelids are more prone to cancer she explained, “Our eyelids are the thinnest and most delicate skin tissue on our bodies. Be sure to apply sunscreen on this area anytime you are exposed to harmful UV”. Because of how delicate the eyelids are, they are extremely susceptible to cancer, especially in those with fair skin. There are a few types of eyelid cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Most of these occur on the lower lid because it is most exposed to the sun, we usually have our brow to protect our upper lid. Basal cell carcinoma is the most prevalent of the three and accounts for about 90% of all eyelid cancers reported. If left untreated these tumors can grow around the eye and into the orbit, around the sinuses and into the brain.
These are only a few of the effects that long term exposure to the sun can cause, but I think that it’s something that people don’t put too much emphasis on in their day-to-day lives. Here in Texas the sun is relentless, which is another reason we decided on this topic.
Below are some helpful tips on the most effective and efficient ways to protect your eyes:
-Ask your doctor on whether or not contacts with UV-protection are available and a suitable fit for your eyes.
-When picking out your next sunglasses, be sure to pick out something that is polarized. The optics are better, gives everything a bit more contrast, and it blocks out about 99% of harmful UV rays.
-Artificial sources, like welding machines, tanning beds and lasers, can also produce UV radiation, so be sure to always use protection when exposed to these sources as well.