A Message from Dr. Franson about UV Protection!
Spring and summer season in Utah means spending extra time outdoors. Whether it is out hiking, gardening or poolside, we tend to get more sun exposure in the warmer months. Most people are pretty good about using sunscreen and protective clothing against UV rays for our skin but many still forget to protect their eyes. Large amounts of UV exposure can cause short term complications like photokeratitis, a sunburn of the eyes, as well as long term damage. Sun exposure has been linked to the formation of cataracts, macular degeneration and skin cancers around the eye. Long term exposure can also cause tissue build up on the whites of the eye called pingueculas, which can lead to chronic irritation and dry eye.
Here is how you can help protect your eyes from sun damage:
- Wear sunglasses that have 100% UV-A and UV-B protection. Sunglasses can be non- prescription, prescription or Transitions lenses.
- Consider wrap around sunglasses if you spend a lot of time outdoors. These fit closer to the face and protect rays from getting around the sides of the frame.
- Several contact lenses now have UV protection, great for those who cannot wear sunglasses during sports or other activities.
- Stay out of the sun during peak UV exposure hours for the eyes, from 8 to 10 AM and from 2 to 4 PM.
- Wear a large brim hat or baseball cap in addition to sunglasses.
When looking for the right pair of sunglasses:
- Consider polarized lenses to reduce glare and rays reflected off surfaces like water, cars and snow. Theses are good for activities such as driving, fishing and skiing.
- Polycarbonate lenses provide impact protection for those in potentially hazardous working conditions, sports and other activities.
- Photochromatic or Transitions lenses offer convenience for prescription wearers since they change depending on light exposure.
- Investing in higher quality sunglasses means less distortions and imperfections in the lenses resulting in better image quality.
- Gray lenses provide the least amount of color distortion, critical for traffic signals and enjoying the outdoors. Brown tinted lenses provide increased contrast that might be beneficial for sports such as golfing or tennis.
Don't forget to protect your children's eyes! Researchers estimate we get 80% of our lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18. Children tend to have larger pupils which let more light into their eyes and spend longer amounts of time outdoors than adults.
By: Dr. Kaeleen Franson, O.D.