Posted by: Coastal Eye Associates in Eye Health on February 26

Woman wearing sunglasses

With Spring and Summer arriving soon to Texas, it’s important to remember sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement. Wearing sunglasses on a regular basis is a great way to protect your vision and avoid common eye diseases and conditions.

The Different Ways Sun Can Damage Your Eyes

Just like too much sun can be bad for your skin, it is also just as bad for your eyes. When you spend time in the sun without adequate eye protection, you may be more likely to develop a variety of eye issues, ranging from corneal “sunburns” to cataracts. Eye conditions associated with sun exposure include:

  • Photokeratitis: According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Photokeratitis is a painful eye condition that occurs when your eye is exposed to the invisible rays of energy called UV rays, either from the sun or from a man-made source. It’s basically like having a sunburn on your eye. Symptoms include pain, redness, blurriness, tearing, gritty feeling, swelling, small pupils, sensitivity to bright light, eyelid twitching, and headaches.
  • Pterygium: A pterygium is a growth of the conjunctiva or mucous membrane that covers the white part of your eye over the cornea. This benign or noncancerous growth is often shaped like a wedge. Symptoms include redness, blurred vision and eye irritation.
  • Macular Degeneration: Sun exposure may be a factor in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The condition causes a blind spot in the center of your vision and is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 and older, according to the National Eye Institute. Although there is currently no effective treatment for AMD, low vision aides can help you make the most of your usable vision.
  • Cataracts: The sun also plays a role in the formation of a cataract, or cloudy lens. The lens of your eye focuses light rays on your retina and is necessary for clear vision. When it clouds, you may experience blurry or faded vision, halos around lights, double vision, light sensitivity and difficulty driving at night. Cataracts are removed during outpatient surgery when they begin to affect the quality of your life.
  • Cancer: Cancer is another potential consequence of sun exposure. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, can affect several parts of your eyes, including the eyelids, iris or choroid, a layer of tissue between the retina and sclera. Common treatments include radiation, thermotherapy, and surgery.

Things to Consider When Shopping for Sunglasses

Fortunately, it’s easy to reduce your risk of developing sun-related eye conditions and diseases by wearing sunglasses every day. When you shop for sunglasses, keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Look for Glasses That Offer Maximum Protection. The most effective sunglasses block 99 percent of ultraviolet B (UVB) rays and 95 percent of ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, according to the American Optometric Association. Sunglasses don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Both inexpensive and costly glasses can provide the same protection from UVA and UVB rays.
  • Choose Gray, Green or Amber Lenses for Better Vision. Although lens color doesn’t have an impact on ultraviolet ray transmission, it can improve contrast, making it easier to see in sunny weather.
  • Choose Wraparound Styles. You may still experience eye damage if the sun’s rays penetrate the sides or top of your sunglasses. Styles that wrap around your face offer the best protection.
  • Make Comfort a Priority. If your sunglasses are uncomfortable, they’ll spend more time in their case than on your face. The most comfortable glasses may not necessarily be the most stylish, although manufacturers offer plenty of attractive frames in every price range.
  • Buy a Spare Pair. Sunglasses are one of the most common items collected by lost and found departments. In fact, more than 55 percent of adults lose or break their sunglasses every year, according to The Vision Council. Purchasing a backup pair will help you ensure that you’re always protected.

You can shop for sunglasses via our website by clicking here: sunglasses. If you think you may be experiencing any of the above mentioned complications, please schedule your appointment online as early as possible so that one of our expert doctors here at Coastal Eye Associates can start you on the path to healing.

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