Healthy Sight This Summer
Looking forward to summer sun? We’re with you!
However, it’s important to be careful not to expose our eyes (or our skin) to too much ultraviolet radiation, as it can a lot of short and long-term health issues.
Three Types of UV rays
The sun gives off three types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC.
UVC is the most dangerous type, but as long as you aren’t an astronaut, don’t worry about them. Most UVC rays are absorbed by the ozone layer before they can reach us.
That leaves us to deal with UVB and UVA rays.
UVB rays aren’t as strong as UVC, but they do filter past the ozone layer and down to us, where they can damage our corneas (the clear layer at the front of our eyes) with too much exposure.
The weakest of the three, UVA rays, penetrate farther than UVB, and have the most impact on us, as they are the most capable of reaching and damaging our retinas, leading to eye health issues like macular degeneration.
Short-Term Problems from UV rays
Hopefully, we all know better than to look directly at the sun, but simply being outdoors for several hours on a sunny day can mean enough UV exposure to cause a condition called photokeratitis.
Essentially, this is a sunburn of the surface of the eye, with symptoms like redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and tearing.
In the winter, you might hear of photokeratitis as “snow blindness,” but you could just as easily experience it after a day on the beach without sunglasses. Photokeratitis is usually temporary, and you can use artificial tears and cold compresses to ease the discomfort.
Long-Term Problems from UV rays
UV exposure has a cumulative effect over the course of our lives, and increases the risk of developing sight-threatening conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration. This is why it’s important to form the habit of protecting your eyes from the sun at a young age, and to consistently do so throughout your life.
Two other conditions we are more susceptible to due to UV exposure are pinguecula and pterygium, more commonly known as “surfer’s eye.” Pinguecula occurs when a white or yellow bump forms in the conjunctiva that covers the whites of our eyes. Pterygium is an overgrowth of clear tissue from the white of the eye towards the iris.
Both are treatable and can be removed if they become bothersome, but it’s best to prevent them in the first place!
Protecting Your Eyesight: A Few Simple Tricks For Healthy Sight This Summer
Fortunately, we can do a lot to protect our eyes if we just follow a few simple tips:
- Always wear sunglasses outside during the day, and make sure they block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
- Wear wide-brimmed hats to provide additional shade.
- Avoid exposing the naked eye to sunlight during the brightest hours of the day (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.)
How Long Has It Been Since We Saw You?
If you have any questions about UV rays and how to protect your eyes from them, if it’s been a while since your last eye exam, or especially if you’ve noticed any changes in your vision, click here to schedule your next appointment with us!