Moving into the summer, the warm heat of the sun is a long awaited comfort to millions of Americans who enjoy summer activity from hiking to sunbathing. However, the harmful UV radiation that comes from spending time in the sun can do long term damage to your sight and eye health. Protecting your eyes is easily achieved with sunglasses or other forms of UV protection. Failing to protect your eyes will leave your eyesight susceptible to long term damage, possibly requiring eye surgery.
The problem is that it’s hard to tell whether or not the bulk of radiant sunlight we’re receiving is harmful. The most harmful rays (UVA, UVB, etc.) register at wavelengths that aren’t usually visible to the human eye. Thus, precaution must always be taken to protect the eyes while enjoying the warm weather outside. Failing to do so will make your eye susceptible to one of several long term eye diseases, common to beachgoers, summer athletes, and outdoor workers. A few long term issues to look out for are as follows.
Pterygium (also called “surfer’s eye”) is the result of irritants, usually found at the beach. Consistent beating from wind, sun damage, and sand irritation causes swelling and itchy growths on the eye, usually in the corners near to the nose. The growths are highly uncomfortable and can sometimes cause corneal damage. The good news is that they are often benign and can be removed with eye surgery, but they do have a strong chance of reoccurrence.
Among other factors such as obesity, diet, smoking; UV radiation damage is a surefire path to Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). UV radiation can pass through the eye and directly damage the sensitive macula in the back of the eye and middle of the retina. The macula’s nerves handle clarity, color, and detail in vision. AMD will make vision blurry and dull. Damage from AMD is irreversible, so prevention is your best method of protection.
A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens over an eye. Cataract contributes to blindness in millions of people around the world and the World Health Organization cites UV radiation as a major contributor to these numbers, as UV radiation expedites the lens degrading process that forms a cataract. Luckily, cataract eye surgery is fairly common; millions are performed each year in the United States.
If you find yourself in an environment where you are risking your eye health, consult with an eye doctor or specialist immediately. Eye surgery can save your vision, if you are able to catch a problem in time. Otherwise, prevention is your best method of defense. Buy UV canceling sunglass or contact a specialist about your other options to save your eyes during prolonged sun exposure.