Protect Your Sight: Get UV protection right

Our eyes are absolutely amazing! Many of us are able to enjoy seeing things without realizing all of the work our eyes perform every day, every hour and every minute. For instance, did you know that on average, each of us blinks 12 times every minute and that each blink lasts for 1/10th of a second?

Vision is a very complex process, so much so that each of our eyes has over 2 million working parts. However, in addition to being incredibly complex, our eyes are also very sensitive, especially to UV light. In the midst of summer, we need to take extra caution against the sunshine.

How does the UV Light impact our eyes?
  • UV-A: Can cause damage to the retina and back of the eye, impacting your central vision.
  • UV-B: Can cause damage to the front part of your eye, the cornea and the lens, which can be even more harmful than UV-A.
What eye conditions may be caused from UV light?
  • Macular Degeneration: This common eye condition is one that occurs with age, or long-term exposure to UV light. The early stages have little to no symptoms, but as the condition progresses, you may notice a change in central vision, wavy lines and blank spots of vision.
  • Cataracts: With almost 10% of all cataract cases being linked to UV exposure, this is a very important eye condition to note. Caused by UV-B rays, a cataract is the clouding of the natural lens within the eye. While it is common for cataracts to form with age, eye protection can help to slow or prevent them from forming, take note of any blurred or foggy vision.
  • Pterygium: While this is a relatively minor condition, it is a type of benign growth that forms on the surface of your eye and inside your eyelids. It is most common amongst those who spend a lot of time outdoors in sunny climates. Early signs of pterygium are eye irritation, eye dryness, eye redness, visual blindness and restriction of movement.
  • Photokeratitis: This condition is essentially a corneal sunburn caused by intense, short-term exposure to UV-b rays without eye protection. While this condition will usually heal on its own, it can be very painful and may even cause temporary loss of vision.
How do we keep our eyes healthy?
  • Wear sunglasses while outdoors, even if it’s overcast and even if it’s just for a few minutes. Make sure that your sunglasses meet these criteria:
o   Block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation
o   Screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light
o   Have lenses that allow for color distinction and recognition
  • Eat an eye friendly diet that has plenty of nutrients to nourish and save your sight. By eating a diet rich in vitamins A and E, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, you are not only promoting overall eye health, but decreasing your risk of eye disorders.
  • Utilize eye exercises, this can help with tiredness and overuse. Even better, some research suggests that regular eye exercise may improve vision.
  • With over 80 percent of vision problems in the world being avoidable or curable, it is important to talk to your physician about eye health. By utilizing knowledge of your family eye history and your personal health risks, your physician can help ensure your eyes stay healthy. If you think you’re an eye health guru, try putting your knowledge to the test with this Eye Quiz

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