The Sun and Its Effects on Your Eyes
Sun and UV Eye Damage: Ten Facts
You're probably already well aware of the damage the sun can do to your skin. But what about the damage it can cause your precious eyes?
Sunlight is at its most intense between the hours of 10 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon. That means ultraviolet exposure is the most dangerous then.Just like darker skin tones provide more protection against the sun than fairer skin tones, darker eye colours afford slightly more protection against the sun than light-coloured eyes. Still, sunglasses with proper UV protection are important for everyone. The human body has the ability to repair and replace damaged cells. The lens of the eye, though, is an exception and is never replaced. Because of this, symptoms like cataracts can occur as a result of gradually accumulating damage to the proteins of the lens. And this damage is commonly caused by ultraviolet radiation.Excessive exposure to UV rays in your early childhood is particularly harmful to your eyes, possibly only showing up later in life.Reflected light can cause eye burn. At high altitudes, snow-covered mountains, sandy beaches and reflective bodies of water like lakes, rivers and the sea, sun exposure is at its most intense.Those dangerous UV rays can cause pteryguim, a condition when tissue grows on the whites of the eyes, thus blocking proper vision.Skin cancer – also known as melanoma – is caused largely by over-exposure to the sun, and can develop on the eyelids as well as the other parts of the skin.Exposure to UV rays can play a role in the development of age-related macular degeneration. This is when the eye's macular (the centre of the retina) deteriorates.Antibiotics or certain drugs can make your eyes, and even your skin, more photosensitive. This sensitivity to sunlight means your eyes are more prone to sun-related damage.If you're a fair-haired, light-eyed, smoking Caucasian female, you're in the high-risk category for sun damage to the eyes. But really, that doesn't mean that the rest of us have any cause to be complacent.
Eye Protection from Sun Damage: Tips and Advice
† UV-blocking contact lenses help provide protection against harmful UV radiation. 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. Long-term exposure to UV radiation is one of the risk factors associated with cataracts. Exposure is based on a number of factors such as environmental conditions (altitude, geography, cloud cover) and personal factors (extent and nature of outdoor activities). Consult your eye care practitioner for more information.