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(1st Sat. of Month ONLY)
June 17, 2013
By Eola Eyes, Doctors of Optometry
Here in the Sunshine State, we have access to warm weather for the majority of the year, beautiful beaches, and plenty of bright sunny days. And, of course, we have “The Mouse!” While for most of us Florida provides the picture perfect backdrop to our active lives and something our northern friends covet—especially around January—it can also put us at greater risk for ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage.
Most people are aware of the harmful effects that the sun has on our skin. We spend time lathering on sunscreen just to avoid getting burned. However, it is also important to realize that the same UV radiation that harms our skin can also negatively impact the health of our eyes. Being exposed to sunlight just for a short period of time can cause you to experience what is known as photokeratitis, which is like “sunburn of the eye.” This can be quite painful and can cause redness, a gritty feeling in your eyes, and excessive tearing. Fortunately, this is usually temporary and rarely causes permanent damage to the eyes.
However, long-term sun exposure can have more serious consequences to your eyes. Studies have shown that exposure to small amounts of UV radiation over an extended period of time can increase the chances of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. The eyelids are also very vulnerable to skin cancer because topical lotions with sun protection factor (SPF) are generally irritating when used so close the eyes. The longer your eyes are exposed to solar radiation, the greater your risk of developing these conditions in the future.
It is extremely important to wear protective glasses anytime you are outdoors, even when you do not think it is very sunny. UV radiation risk is actually greater when the sun’s energy is not at its strongest. Because our upper eyelids protect our eyes when the sun is directly over us, the risk is the greatest when the sun is lower in the sky (like in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon). Also, UV rays can come through clouds on overcast days when we do not think sunglasses are necessary. Therefore, it’s important that any glasses you wear outdoors help protect from UV radiation. Effective sunglasses can block out 99-100% of harmful UV radiation.
At Eola Eyes, we offer a wide variety of prescription and non-prescription sunglasses from Maui Jim, Costa del Mar, Oakley, Ray-Ban, and many fashion designers including Oliver Peoples, Gucci, Lafont, Robert Marc and others. We also recommend Crizal anti-reflective lenses with UV protection built right in for your regular eyewear, so your eyes are protected whether you have your sunglasses on or not! Make an appointment today, and next time you’re enjoying a day outdoors, you can be sure your eyes are well protected!