Eye doctors agree that long-term exposure to the sun can increase the risk of eye problems, including cataracts, growths on the eye and cancer. Sun exposure is a year-round risk but especially so in the summer months. In an effort to raise awareness of the perils of UV damage and promote sun safety, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recognizes July as “UV Safety Month.” Read on as Dr. Edward Hedaya of InVision EyeCare shares his best tips for protecting eyes from the sun.
Understand the Dangers of UV Rays
There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B. UV rays can lead to eye problems such as:
- Macular degeneration: a deterioration of the macula, or the portion of the retina responsible for clear central vision
- Cataracts: clouding of the eye’s natural crystalline lens
- Pterygium: a growth that forms on the white of the eye and can gradually block vision
- Photokeratitis: a painful inflammation or “sunburn” on the cornea
Too much exposure to UV rays can also lead to cancer inside the eye (i.e., intraocular cancer) and eyelid skin cancer.
Wear Proper Sun Protection
Your sunglasses should absorb 99 to 100 percent of all UV-A and UV-B rays. The lenses should be large enough to completely cover your eyes. Wraparound styles can help prevent sunlight from reaching your eyes through the sides of the glasses, and polarized lenses can eliminate glare. For added protection, you can wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade your eyes from sun hitting them above or around the glasses. Be especially diligent about wearing your glasses and hat around water and sand, as the sun can reflect off bright surfaces. And, always apply sunscreen to the face when going outdoors.
Check Your Medications
Certain medications, including birth control pills, estrogen pills and antibiotics, make the eyes more susceptible to UV ray damage. These medications should be marked as causing photosensitivity. Check your medication labels to confirm whether you could be affected.
Avoid Staring at the Sun
Looking directly at the sun can damage the retina, or the cells at the back of the eye that help transmit information to the brain. To avoid irreversible retinal damage, never stare at the sun.
Contact InVision EyeCare
For more information about keeping your eyes safe and healthy this summer, please contact Dr. Hedaya at InVision EyeCare. You can call (732) 210-0140 or email us with questions at your convenience.