Babys Got Healthy Blue Eyes
July is UV Safety Awareness Month. During this hot, sunny time of year, it is especially important to protect ourselves from the potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Most people are more than aware of the effects that the sun can have on their skin, but might think less about what it can do to their eyes. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), UV rays can burn both the skin and the different parts of the eye. While this risk exists year-round, most people get most of their sun exposure during the summer while they are around highly reflective substances like sand and water.
Both UVA and UVB rays reach and affect the eye. The UVA rays have a higher amount of energy, but the UVB rays are able to penetrate deeper into the eye. The sun's UV rays are usually absorbed by the front parts of the eye, but are capable of reaching back to the retina. Although the damage might not be apparent right away, it can show up years later in the form of cataracts (clouding of the lens), macular degeneration (loss of central vision), or total blindness.
The short term damage can include a sort of painful cornea "sunburn" called photokeratitis, and abnormal growths. These growths can occur on the eyelid and on the surface of the eyeball. Left untreated, such conditions can require surgery. Fortunately, protecting your eyes from the sun is not difficult or expensive. The following suggestions come from the web site of the AOA:
- Wear protective eyewear any time your eyes are exposed to UV light (natural or in a tanning salon), even on cloudy days and during winter months.
- Look for quality sunglasses that offer good protection. Sunglasses should block out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
- Check to make sure your sunglass lenses are perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection.
- Purchase gray-colored lenses. They reduce light intensity without altering the color of objects, providing the most natural color vision.
- Don't forget protection for children and teenagers. They typically spend more time in the sun than adults.
- Receive routine comprehensive eye exams.
Since UV damage is cumulative, and gets gradually worse over time, it's always a good time to start protecting your eyes. What better excuse to buy a cool new pair of shades?