UV Protection – Protecting your eyes from ultraviolet light
You may not know if, but our eyes are sensitive to sun damage. Just as it is important for us to apply sunscreen and protect our skin from harmful UV rays, it is equally important for us to protect our eyes from sun exposure by wearing sunglasses. Solar radiation can cause short-term damage and long-term adverse effects on our eyes.
Excessive sun exposure can cause photokeratitis. Photokeratitis is like a sunburn, but on the eye, specifically on the cornea and conjunctiva. It is very painful and symptoms include: tearing, redness, acute pain, sensitivity to light, halos around lights, foreign body sensation, blurred vision and headaches. Treatment includes cold compress, artificial tears, Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory (NSAID's) drops, oral pain medication, and depending on the severity, antibiotic drops and bandage contact lens.
Pinguecula is a non-cancerous growth on the conjunctiva (white part of the eye) from sun over exposure. It appears as a clear or yellowish raised lesion, usually on the nasal corner of the conjunctiva. It is not harmful to the eye, but some consider it cosmetically unappealing.
Two different brands of orthokeratology lenses have been approved by the FDA for overnight reshaping: Vision Shaping Treatment (VST) by Bausch & Lomb and Paragon Vision Sciences' Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT). VST can be used for patients with up to 5 diopters of myopia, 1.50 of astigmatism while CRT is approved for patients with up to 6 diopters of myopia, 1.75 of astigmatism.
Pterygium is a wing-shaped growth onto the cornea, usually starting from a pinguecula and growing further into the cornea due to excessive sun exposure. Pterygiums can interfere with vision and cause astigmatism.
Skin cancer is commonly found on the eyelid region. 90% of eyelid skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma.
Cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye and causes blurred vision Many studies suggest a strong correlation between cataracts and UVB exposure.
Macular Degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness in the US. Short wavelength radiation causes oxidative stress on the retina, damaging the tissue causing central vision loss.
The American Optometric Association recommends wearing quality sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV radiation as well as a wide brimmed hat while spending extended time outdoors. UV radiation can penetrate through clouds. So even if it does not seem like a particularly sunny day, it is still important to take proper precautions for UV protection. UV radiation is reflected off the water, so be sure to protect yourself while on a boat!
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