This summer season may look a little different from years past, with certain activities put on hold due to COVID-19. But chances are, some of your summer plans still involve spending quality time outdoors, enjoying the warm sunshine.
You probably know how vulnerable your skin is to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, and likely take precautions to protect yourself. You may be surprised to learn that your eyes are also susceptible to harm from sun exposure.
Take a moment to learn why your eyes need sun protection from experienced ophthalmologist Ernest Kornmehl.
Prevent Early Onset of Age-Related Eye Conditions
Diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration are closely linked to advancing age. Research has shown that long-term overexposure to UV rays can increase the risk of early onset of these diseases.
Unprotected exposure to UV radiation can lead to photokeratitis, which is like having a sunburned eye. Photokeratitis causes uncomfortable symptoms such as eye redness, swelling, tearing, sensitivity to light and visual distortions.
Reduce Risk of Skin Cancer on the Eyelids
The delicate skin of your eyelids is susceptible to skin cancer. An estimated 5 to 10 percent of all skin cancers occur on the eyelids.
Sun Safety Tips
The best protection against the sun’s UV rays is to wear good-quality UV-blocking sunglasses whenever going outside (even on cloudy or hazy days). When shopping for sunglasses, check for UV ratings. You want to buy glasses labeled as “UV400” or “100 percent UV protection.” Styles with large lenses or a wraparound style can help protect the delicate skin around your eyes.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that tinted sunglasses automatically protect against UV rays; they may actually put you at greater risk as the tinting can cause your pupils to dilate, allowing more UV rays into your eyes.
You may want to explore adding a broad-brimmed hat for extra protection.
When thinking about sun safety, understand that tanning beds are also linked to UV damage. In fact, tanning beds can produce UV levels that are much greater than what you are exposed to outside in the sun.
Finally, it is helpful to be aware of the factors that can increase the risk of eye damage from UV exposure. If you use Retin-A cream, have light-colored eyes or take photosensitizing medications (e.g., some antibiotics and birth control pills), you are more vulnerable to UV damage and should be extra careful about sun protection.
Contact Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates
If you have questions about cataracts, photokeratitis or other eye conditions, please contact Dr. Kornmehl today.