A few days ago I briefly told you why investing in a good pair of sunglasses will go a long way to prevent eyes damage from bright sunlight. Now that it looks as if summer is finally arriving in the UK, I thought it a good idea to go into a bit more detail about the benefits of protecting your eyes from ultraviolet exposure, which could lead to eye conditions like macular degeneration, cataracts and photokeratitis.
Unfashionable but necessary
You must have seen them… those wraparound sunglasses that make you look as if you are a character out of Lord of the Flies… Lets face it, they don’t look very fashionable. Turns out that the people wearing those curious sunglasses may not be fashionistas but they certainly are clued up about preventing eye damage.
Those mega-wraparound sunglasses block nearly 100 per cent of ultraviolet rays. Anything less than that increases the risk of photokeratitis, which is sunburn of the cornea..
Ouch! And not only is it painful, but it can also damage and kill superficial corneal cells. And that sets up the potential for serious, long-term damage.
Of course, you don’t HAVE to wear those oversized sunglasses to prevent eye damage. But when you understand the consequences of UV damage, you may actually want to!
Reason one: Photokeratitis is an excellent reason to wear sunglasses with proper UV protection. But there are four more reasons that are just as good.
Reason two: pterygium
When sun exposure repeatedly damages the cornea, scar tissue and blood vessels create abnormal growth that can extend to the pupil and block vision. Severest pterygium cases require surgery.
Reason three: cataracts
More than 2 million Britons have cataracts and in the US these numbers rise to up to 22 million. I know you don’t want to join their ranks. Your risk increases if you have a family history of diabetes, or a history of smoking, or long-term steroid use. But UV exposure ranks as one of the most serious risk factors.
Reason four: Macular degeneration
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness in people 55 and over. If you live in a region that’s sunny year-round and don’t wear proper sunglasses, UV damage can reach the retina at the back of the eyeball. When damage occurs in the centre of the retina, deterioration begins at the centre of the field of vision and slowly expands.
In addition to shopping for lenses that are reliable UV-absorbers, a wraparound frame does a much better job of filtering out UV than glasses with smaller frames and lenses.
But you don’t have to go with the chunky frame look. Along with normal frames, a baseball cap or broad-brimmed hat will reduce glare from above. But glare from below can be a problem if you’re regularly out in full sunlight on a surface covered with snow, concrete, or sand.
These surfaces can create a powerful glare. That’s when the oversized frames are especially useful.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
“Prevent Eye Damage — Protect Yourself from UV Radiation” Environmental Protection Agency, epa.gov
“Sunglasses Rival Lotions as Vital for Safety” Dennis Thompson, HealthDay News, 8/20/10, healthday.com
“EC Official to FDA Official: Who’s a Guinea Pig? Ed Silverman, Pharmalot, 2/25/11, pharmalot.com