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Summer Sun To Blame For Eye Disease

This summer you may want to stay out of the sun to protect your vision. Most people know that exposure to the sun, especially at the height of summer, can damage their skin. But few people realize the serious toll the sun can take on their eyes. Extended exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays is one of the risk factors associated with eye disorders such as cataracts.

Levels of UV radiation are particularly high during summer months (3 times higher than in winter), between 10am and 3pm and at high altitudes (for example, many ski resorts).

Ultraviolet Rays and the Eye

Ultraviolet light is the component of sunlight most responsible for eye damage. Ultraviolet light rays come in three main types – A, B and C – categorized according to their wavelengths. UV-C is the shortest and potentially the most dangerous wavelength, but it is largely absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and therefore is less of a threat than UV-A or UV-B. UV-A.

Excessive exposure to UV light, especially from light reflected off sand, snow, or pavement, can produce a burn on the surface of the eye. Like a sunburn on the skin, eye surface burns are painful but usually temporary. Long-term exposure of the eye to UV light affects not only its surface (cornea and conjunctiva), but also its internal structures (lens and retina).

Short term problems from too much sun include:

More serious long-term damage includes:

The rays absorb by the retina and the conjunctiva can be quite dangerous if they are absorbed in a sunny day , in high altitude, on the sand or on the water, where there is an important reflection from the bottom.

Results also show participants who reported being in the sun the most had about a 50-percent lower risk of developing characteristics of age-related macular degeneration when they used hats and sunglasses at least half the time.

On the other hand, those who reported experiencing more than 10 severe sunburns during their childhood were 2.5-times more likely to develop abnormal blood vessels in their retinas, which is associated with age-related maculopathy.

Ways to protect the eye from sun damage

UV Blocking Contact Lenses Help Protect from the Sun

Contact lens wearers have a means of protection from damaging UV rays – UV blocking lenses, which filter UV radiation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new indication that ACUVUE® UV blocking contact lenses “help protect against transmission of harmful UV radiation to the cornea and into the eye.” However, clinical studies have not been done to demonstrate that wearing UV blocking contact lenses reduces the risk of developing cataracts or other eye disorders.

NOTE: The American Optometric Association warns that UV blocking contact lenses are not a replacement for UV absorbing sunglasses. However, the AOA acknowledges that, when worn with sunglasses, UV blocking contact lenses provide protection by blocking much of the UV rays that reach the cornea and that get into the eye through the open spaces at the top, bottom and sides of sunglasses.

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