BLOCKING OUT UV
As summer is finally underway, and temperatures reach up into the 90’s, many of us will find ourselves at annual pool parties, on the way to the beach, or just soaking up the sun’s rays outside. While sun exposure is encouraged, as it provides a good source of vitamin D, overdoing it can cause more harm than good if you fail to use the proper protection.
July is National UV Safety month and it is a great time to spread information and awareness about UV safety. UV radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer in the United States and is also responsible for eye damage, including cataracts and macular degeneration, which are the primary causes of vision loss among seniors.
There are some characteristics that make people more susceptible than others. Individuals with light colored eyes, blue or green, are generally at a larger risk from UV exposure than those who have darker eye colors.
There are some ways that you can help to prevent UV Damage.
- Put on your sunglasses. The most effective type of sunglasses block out 99-100% of UV and are the wrap around type. This style helps to prevent UV rays from entering around the sides of the glasses.
- Find the shade. Avoiding the sun when the UV rays are at the most intense, between the hours of 10 am to 3 pm, will lower the amount of UV you are exposed to.
- Grab the cap. Wearing a hat will also help to limit exposure not only to your eyes but also to your face, scalp and neck depending on the type of hat you choose.
Remember that more than your skin can get burned by the UV rays. This is referred to as photokeratitis or sun burned eyes.
Symptoms of sun burned eyes are:
- Eye pain
- Burning sensation
- Swollen eyes or lids
- Watery eyes
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- A gritty feeling
- Red eyes.
These symptoms are usually temporary and will generally resolve themselves in 24-48 hours. If you find your symptoms are prolonged, contact your eye doctor immediately.
When the pool bag is packed and the sun screen is applied, don’t forget to grab your sunglasses as you head outdoors this summer. Proper UV protection will help to prevent your eyes from being burned by the sun but will also help to reduce the chances of eye troubles years down the road!
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.