Plenty has been written about the harm that sunrays can cause to your skin; from nasty burns, aging of the skin, to the risk of skin cancer. But there has been little discussion how damaging UVA and UVB rays are to the eyes.
We asked Dr. Darwin J. Liao, M.D., M.P.H to give us some answers.
Dr. Liao is an ophthalmologist that received his medical training at Tulane University and The University of Tennessee, Memphis. He serves as the Director of Seattle Eye M.D.s., a progressive eye care clinic that implements state of the art technology for the diagnosis and treatment of ocular disorders.
Q: How can we protect the eyes effectively to avoid eye damage?
Dr. A: “Starting with the front of the eye, skin cancer of the eyelids may occur. Clearly sunglasses not only protect the eye but also the lids. Plus a wide brimmed hat is an effective barrier against damaging UV rays sneaking in from above. Without protection a painful burn of the cornea can occur, similarly to sunburn on your skin. Additionally, the risk to damage the unprotected eye is heightened when there are reflections from water, snow or exposure to artificial light from tanning beds.”
Q: “What about individuals who cannot avoid the sun because they work outside most of the time?”
A: Prolonged exposure of the naked eye to UV rays can contribute to cataract formation. It can also lead to a growth on the eye called pterygium, most often occurring to field workers, gardeners, or surfers. When the growth continues, it may cause redness, dryness, or visual distortion.”
Q: Can sun exposure to the eye affect the retina?
A:” Yes, the retina may be affected as well. Individuals with Macular Degeneration may be at increased risk from harmful UV and blue light and should definitely avail themselves of good protective eye glasses.”
Q: With thousand of sunglasses available from five to five hundred dollars, is there really a difference in eye protection efficacy, or does it just come down to fashion, style and brand names causing huge difference in pricing?
A: “Most sunglasses offer some degree of protection. However, there is a huge difference in overall lens effectiveness. Obviously we cannot review and test all lenses. We have tested Maui Jim glasses. Their technology includes seven to nine layers of glare protection to every lens. Other benefits in overall lens effectiveness they offer are distortion-free lenses and color and/or contrast enhancement. For people with light sensitive eyes wrap around styles are most effective”
Q: What exactly is the Maui Jim technology called Polarized Plus® 2?
A: It literally reduces 99.9 % of harmful glare, from above, below, even glare that hits the inside of the lens.”
Q: “Is there a difference between lens colors?
A: Colors do vary. For Maui Jim, neutral grey lenses offer the highest level of light reduction. Bronze enhance contrast and are best for sun/cloudy days. Rose tints produce the highest contrast for everyday conditions. I love Maui Pure lenses. Clear as glass lenses yet feather light, they’re easy on the bridge of my nose.”
Most important, put on your lenses when you step outside. Rain or shine, good protection for kids or grown- ups is essential because the harmful rays are always there, and sun damage is cumulative.
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