So much attention is given to protecting your skin in the sun, but it’s just as important to protect your eyes from the sun. Dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun can damage your eyes and delicate skin surrounding them. Read on to learn more about eye health and sun exposure and what you can do to protect your eyes.
Eye conditions related to sun exposure
UV radiation is a cause of several serious eye conditions. At least 10 percent of cataract cases can be attributed to UV exposure, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Cataracts cloud and yellow the lens of your eye, leading to progressive vision loss and blindness. Macular degeneration is a common cause of vision loss for people over the age of 60. It’s due to cumulative UV damage to the central portion of the retina.
Did you know you can sunburn your eye? UV exposure can cause a corneal sunburn, called keratitis. The cornea is the clear surface that admits light and images to the retina. This condition occurs in skiers and hikers because of how the sun reflects off of water, snow and ice.
Conjunctival eye cancers were once rare but are increasing, especially in older people.
Damage to the eyelids
UVA and UVB rays from the sun and indoor tanning produce DNA changes that can cause premature aging on the skin around your eyes and can lead to skin cancer on the eyelids. Eyelid skin cancer most often occurs on the lower lid because it receives the most sun exposure. Eyelid cancers usually respond well to surgery and post-surgical care when diagnosed and treated early. Left untreated, eyelid cancers can cause tissue damage and blindness.
How to protect your eyes in the sun
There are simple things you can do to protect your eyes and skin every day while also enjoying the outdoors:
- First and foremost, wear sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of UVA and UVB light. Make sure you wear them anytime you are out in the sun and year-round as sun damage can occur any time of year. Also, be aware that the sun’s harmful rays can pass through clouds, so wear sunglasses even when there’s cloud cover.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and the top of your head.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Select one that is safe and for your face and eyes.
- Seek shade whenever possible. The sun is most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
If you’re experiencing problems with your eyes, call 808.955.3937 today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey Maehara at Maehara Eye Surgery & Laser.