The summer season is upon us, and for many people, that means more time spent outdoors basking in the sun. As leading Southern California eye experts, the team at Laser Eye Center feels a responsibility to shed light on the sun’s threats to your ocular health. You may decide that today’s tan is simply not worth tomorrow’s potential eye troubles.
How Does UV Exposure Affect the Eyes?
Before you hit the pool or the beach, consider that extended UV exposure is linked to an increased risk of the following eye conditions:
- Pterygium or “surfer’s eye” – A benign growth on the eye’s surface that can gradually enlarge and advance over the cornea. Some pterygia cause itchiness or interfere with vision.
- Pinguecula – A yellow, fleshy growth on the whites of the eye. A pinguecula may affect vision if it gets large enough.
- Macular degeneration – The deterioration of the macula, which controls the quality of central vision.
- Cataracts – A clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Most cataracts are linked to age-related factors, but excessive UV exposure is a risk factor for early onset cataracts.
- Photokeratitis – A “sunburn” of the eyes or corneal inflammation that can cause pain, swelling and redness.
- Ocular melanoma – A rare form of ocular cancer.
You may want to think twice about using tanning beds, too. The beds produce very high levels of UV light, and the flimsy goggles provided by the tanning bed attendant will not adequately protect your eyes.
Smart Sun Habits
You do not have to resign yourself to staying indoors all summer. You can still enjoy all of your favorite warm weather activities. But it is critical to take daily precautions to protect your eyes from potential UV exposure.
Our team recommends you practice the following smart sun habits:
- Invest in sunglasses that offer protection from 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
- If you are outside a lot during the day, look at wraparound sunglasses, which block sunlight from sneaking in the sides and tops of the frames. Add a broad-brimmed hat for extra protection.
- Wear sunscreen to protect the delicate skin around your eyes.
- If you notice any unusual eye discoloration or growths, request an evaluation with our eye doctors.
- If you wear contact lenses, ask your optometrist about lenses with built-in UV protection.
- For a sun-kissed glow that won’t put your eyes at risk, use sunless tanning products.
Laser Eye Center is deeply invested in our patients’ ocular health. For more information about keeping your eyes safe from the harmful effects of the sun, please call or email us today. We are proud to serve patients from six convenient locations throughout Southern California.
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