Many people don't realize the importance of a quality pair of sunglasses. Did you know that a great pair of shades can actually stop, or at least slow, the aging process as it affects your eyes?
A recent survey conducted by the America Optometric Association showed that only 32 percent of Americans understand the importance of blocking and protecting our eyes from the harmful effects of UV sun rays. Dr. Sue Lowe, an American Optometric Association UV expert, says that overexposure to these harmful rays can increase the rate at which your eyes age and increase the risk of developing serious eye disease and damage.
Eye Disease Related to Sun OverexposureAlthough it is not proven that the sun causes eye diseases, it is known that small amounts of UV radiation over several years can increase the chance of developing certain conditions including the following:
Sunburned EyesDid you know that you can actually develop a sunburn on your eyes? UV radiation in excessive amounts over a short period of time can cause a condition called photokeratitis. Photokeratitis mainly affects the cornea, the clear dome-like structure on the front part of your eye. Photokeratitis can be extremely painful and make it difficult for you to even open your eyes. People with photokeratitis usually complain of the following symptoms:
- light sensitivity
- excessive tearing
- sandy, gritty feeling in their eyes
Ways to Prevent UV Damage to the Eyes:If you plan to be in the sun for a period of time, keep in mind the following tips:
- Pick out sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Sunglasses should also screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. Many times there will be a sticker on the lens stating this fact. If you are concerned about the level of protection you are getting, go to your local eye doctor who often have instruments used for verifying how much UV protection is present. You might consider polarized lenses as well. Polarized lenses don’t necessarily block all UV light so be sure to ask your eye doctor. However, they do help cut down debilitating glare from the water.
- Spread sunscreen protective cream on your eyelids. Take care not to get it in your eyes. Skin specialists recommend a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 or greater-not just in the summer but all year-round.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Hats are great for added sun protection for you eyes and face. Don’t forget the young ones. Eighty percent of UV damage that occurs to us has been found to occur before the age of 18. Children should wear sunglasses that are well-fitted and protect from all angles.
American Optometric Association, Media Release: Stop your eyes from aging this summer. St. Louis, Mo. 1 June 2011.