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How Can Sunlight Damage Our Eyes?

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The tiny, complex organs we call our eyes give us the miracle of sight. We use our eyes for absolutely everything, and as such, we must care for them accordingly. We believe that taking care of our eyes is top priority, and that it should be yours too.

Of course, our eyes are designed to protect themselves, but sometimes our bodies natural way of protection just isn’t good enough. Not to worry, however, adequate eye protection may be as simple as purchasing sunglasses.

UV Light

UV light is a form of invisible light emitted from the sun. On the plus side, majority of this light is filtered out by our atmosphere before reaching our eyes. On the down side, our atmosphere has been deteriorating and is no longer able to do as good of a job as it used to (thanks, slowly repairing but not yet fixed ozone layer).

Inside our eyes, the lens and the cornea work together to filter our harmful UV rays to prevent damage. Unfortunately, after doing so for many years, they themselves may become damaged from the filtration process!

A Yellowish Lens

The lens is the eye’s transparent focusing mechanism that allows us to see images clearly by focusing light directly on the retina. UV light is known to alter the appearance of the lens- when it does, it will begin to turn yellowish and cataractous. This can significantly affect vision, as well as cause the formation of cataracts.

Sunlight Damage Doesn’t Stop There

Damage from the UV light present in sunlight doesn’t stop at turning our lens yellow. UV light can damage our eyes in many other ways, such as;

  • Eyelid Cancers. Accounting for 10% of skin cancers, eyelid skin cancers mostly occur on the lower lid as it receives the most sun exposure. Eyelid cancer leaves the patient at risk of major damage to the eye, as well as disfigurement to the face.
  • Intraocular Melanoma. This is the most common eye cancer in adults, although still very rare. It starts in the middle layer of the eye containing the iris – the uveal tract. Symptoms of an intraocular melanoma may include blurred vision, change in the pupil’s shape, and/or a dark spot on the iris.
  • Conjunctival Cancers. Raising in incidences in recent years, conjunctival cancers may be more common in patients with atypical mole syndrome – 100 or more moles that are atypical.
  • Cataracts. As previously mentioned, UV light can cause cataracts.Cataracts are a progressive clouding and yellowing of the lens. Cataracts are the most common cause of treatable blindness worldwide.
  • Corneal Sunburn. Immense exposure to UV light from the sun can burn the cornea, much like our skin when exposed for too long. This condition is especially present in the winter when we don’t think sun protection is required, and UV rays are being reflected by the snow directly at us.

Protecting Our Eyes From The Sun

Protecting our eyes from the sun can be as easy as purchasing a pair of sunglasses. When looking for sunglasses, be sure to purchase a pair that is UV-resistant for maximum protection.

Another trick for protecting your eyes from the sun is to not look directly at it. This may seem like a no-brainer, but some still believe it’s a good idea to stare into the giant bright ball in the sky that causes temporary blindness.

Looking For More?

If you want more information on protecting your eyes from the sun, book an appointment with our optometrist. We would love to have you come by and chat about ways to keep one of your most valuable organs safe. Afterall, life wouldn’t be the same without the miracle of sight.

Written by admin

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