RAYS & EYES DISEASES
have long warned patients of the danger of excessive sun exposure
to their skin. Less well known is that our eyes are just as
susceptible to damage from ultraviolet (UV) light. Scientific
research has clearly linked several eye diseases to damage from UV
light. These diseases include cataract, macular degeneration,
snow-blindness, pterygium and skin cancer, to name a few.
One of the most well known eye diseases is cataract. Cataract is a hazing of the normally clear lens inside of the eye. The
normal lens allows light to reach the retina for clear vision. Cataract
reduce vision. The number one cause of blindness in the world is
cataract. Although factors such as nutrition and genetics play a role
in cataract formation, UV exposure is primarily responsible.
In recent years, the public has become increasingly aware of this ocular
disease that goes by many different names. Macular degeneration is a
result of the death of cells in the central (macular) part of the
retina. Like cataract, it is thought to have nutrition, genetics, and
UV exposure as factors in development.
Also known as "welder's flash". This is a condition that comes
from a brief, but intense exposure to ultraviolet light. The cornea, the
outermost clear part of the eye is affected. Symptoms usually include
eye pain (sometimes severe) light sensitivity, tearing, and foreign body
sensation. These symptoms usually resolve after
about a day. This syndrome is caused by part of the UV spectrum called
UV-B. Welders not wearing a welder's mask for eye protection often
experience this problem, as well as people with exposure to bright
sunlight in combination with freshly fallen snow. Skiers without eye
protection on the slopes, or even exposure to the intense glare from the
ocean or lakes can lead to this "sunburn" of the eyes.
It is fleshy growth of conjunctiva on the cornea. It progresses slowly and if not treated can cover pupil and lead to blindness. It is more in tropical countries probably because of exposure to UV rays and chronic eye irritation from dry and dusty atmosphere.
It is a yellowish patch or swelling on white of eye near cornea. It does not grow onto cornea and needs no treatment. It is supposed to be due to Sunlight and chronic eye irritation.
Mostly everyone is familiar with the connection between UV exposure and skin cancer. The areas of skin most susceptible to cancer are those most chronically exposed to the sun, so it makes sense that the eyelids and the areas around the eyes are at risk. UV exposure is a known-factor in the three types of skin cancer, basal cell, squamous cell, and malignant melanoma.
What can we do to help prevent these things from happening to us?
Quality sunglasses have ultraviolet coatings to block UV light from reaching the eyes and surrounding skin. They are a sunscreen for our eyes. Inferior sunglasses may only block a percentage of UV light, and claim to be "UV blocking." A quality pair will block 100% of UV light transmission. Make sure you find out which kind your are purchasing, and then make sure you use them whenever feasible.
A recent advance in technology has allowed the addition of UV-blocking properties to some contact lenses. Although not a substitute for sunglasses, UV contacts help block UV rays that get past sunglasses from the sides.