Although there’s considerable public awareness about UV light’s ability to burn and age the skin, awareness of its effect on the eyes has “fallen in the shadows,” says optometry professor Jan Bergmanson of the University of Houston College of Optometry, founding director of the Texas Eye Research and Technology Center. A 2009 survey by the American Optometric Association found that one in three adults is unaware of the eye-health risks of spending too much time in the sun without proper protection. Just 29 percent of parents say they make sure their children wear sunglasses while outdoors.
The sun can be just as harmful to your eyes as it can be to your skin. Cumulative exposure to the UV rays can contribute to some serious and lasting damage to your eyes and your vision. Some possible consequences are:
Cataracts: A clouding of the eye’s lens that can blur vision. It afflicts one in six Americans over 40 and more than half over 80, about 20 million people. An estimated 20 percent of cases are caused by extended UV exposure.
Macular degeneration: Resulting from damage to the retina that destroys sharp, central vision. It is the leading cause of blindness in the USA.
Pterygium: A tissue growth over the white part of the surface of the eye that can alter the curve of the eyeball, causing astigmatism. If the pterygium starts to grow over the cornea, it can blur or obstruct vision and may need to be removed.
It is not exactly known as to how much sun exposure is needed to damage your eyes, as each person is different, but the increasing UV health related issues are a concern. If you are concerned about the amount of sun exposure you receive, contact Gordy EyeCare today to set an appointment.
image credit: Marcus Vegas on flickr