Summer is starting to come to an end, but that doesn’t mean we can stop wearing our sunglasses outdoors. Our eyes are exposed to UV radiation year round and causes damage to our eyes in several ways.
If you are exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation in a short period of time, you may experience photokeratitis, which is an inflammation of the cornea. It can often feel like a “sunburn on the eye” which may be painful and cause symptoms including red eyes, a gritty feeling in your eyes, light sensitivity, and excessive tearing. Fortunately, this is usually temporary and rarely causes permanent damage to your eyes.
The long-term effects of UV radiation exposure are more serious. These include:
Cataracts, which is a clouding of your vision that makes small print increasingly difficult to see and night time driving more difficult because of glare. If it gets bad enough, surgery is an option to remove the cataract and to replace it with an artificial lens.
Macular Degeneration, which is damage to the retina in the area of your central vision, resulting in a large area of blindness in your direct line of sight. This damage is not reversible, but if caught early, can be managed to slow down its progression or limit its effects.
Top: Normal Retina; Bottom: Macular degeneration
Pterygium, a whitish growth that starts from the white part of your eyes and invades the clear part of your eyes. If it continues to grow, it can eventually cover your vision. Surgery is an option to cut and peel off this growth, but may leave scars and subsequent irritation. There is a high chance that it will grow back if sunglasses aren’t worn afterwards.
Pinguecula, a yellowish, elevated growth that forms on the white part of your eye. Surgery is usually not performed on this because it does not impede with vision. The consequences of having these on the eye are eye irritation, dry eyes, and a cosmetically unattractive yellow bump!
Skin cancer around the eyelids, such as basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, or actinic keratosis, etc can grow on the upper or lower lids due to sun exposure.
Your sunglasses should block out 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB radiation in order to protect your eyes. If you are unsure, bring in your pair and we can check it for you right here in our office with our UV lensometer!
From the practice of:
Dr. Linda Yee, O.D.
7578 6th Street, Burnaby, BC V3N 3M3
Tel: (604) 777-7577