As You Head Back Out into the Sunshine, Remember to Care for Your Eyes

  • Posted on: Jul 15 2020
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After a long winter, we look forward to the warmth of the sun. This year, it hasn’t been a long bout of cold weather that has kept us indoors, it’s been the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 virus. Now that we are seeing some bit of lifting on activity restrictions, we imagine that many of our community neighbors are anxious to feel the sun on their faces. We’re all for it! However, we want to send a friendly reminder that sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory, they are necessary for eye health.

What Is UV?

The reason why eye doctors advise people to wear sunglasses whenever they go outdoors is that sunlight is made of ultraviolet rays of light. UVA and UVB wavelengths are particularly concerning because they pass through the atmosphere unobstructed. Other forms of UV light get at least partially absorbed or altered as they travel toward Earth. Because UVA and UVB make it into our immediate atmosphere, they get absorbed into the skin and also the eyes. In both areas, they can cause damage.

How UV Exposure can Affect the Eyes

The sun offers some benefits. It warms us, which feels comforting. Sun exposure is also necessary for vitamin D production. However, we must only sit in the sun for a short time to activate this process. On the flip side, sun exposure has been linked to several eye conditions, so care must be taken to avoid this risk. Conditions that have been linked to sun exposure include:

  • Photokeratitis. This term describes a sunburn on the cornea. Photokeratitis can cause temporary vision loss and painful inflammation. It is more likely to occur in very bright sunlight and reflection off snow or water.
  • Pterygia and pingueculae. These visible growths on the eye can distort vision and, if they become severe, cause corneal problems.
  • Cataracts. Cataracts are clumps of proteins that gradually cover the lens of the eye. This condition is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the world. Fortunately, the vision loss caused by cataracts can be reversed by replacing the natural lens with an artificial intraocular lens.
  • Macular degeneration. We refer to this breakdown of the macula in the retina as age-related macular degeneration. However, sun exposure is a major contributing factor in the development of this condition.

As you return to a life that includes much more outdoor time, consider how you can protect your eyes from excessive UV exposure. Wearing sunglasses and hats is one of the easiest ways to do this. Eye health is also maintained with regular eye exams that observe the cornea, retina, and other vital ocular structures.

We are happy to serve patients in and around North Canton, Alliance, and Canfield. To schedule a comprehensive eye exam with us, contact an office near you.

Posted in: Eye Care

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