Posted by: Coastal Eye Associates in Eye Health on May 9

may is ultraviolet awareness month

Summer is almost here, and while the sun will be shining bright, it is a golden time to highlight Ultraviolet Awareness Month. Prevent Blindness has declared May as Ultraviolet (UV) Awareness Month to increase awareness of how UV rays can damage your eyes and hurt your vision. We are happy to share this valuable information to learn and share with your friends.

We all love to take in those warm sun rays at the beach or enjoy any outdoor activity during those beautiful sunny days. However, everyone must remember to protect their skin and eyes from the sun’s damaging effects. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the sun emits radiation known as UV-A and UV-B rays, and both types of UV rays can damage your eyes.

Who Is at Risk?

Every person of any age and skin pigmentation is susceptible to UV damage. It is best practice for everyone to wear the proper UV-blocking sunglasses and wide-brim hats to protect themselves from damaging UV rays.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology targeted three types of patients who must take extra precautions to protect themselves from UV rays. Here are those patient types:

Do you have blue, green, or hazel eyes?

Patients with light-colored eyes need to make sure that they are protecting themselves by covering up with a hat and UV-blocking glasses to protect their vision. Some studies showed that UV exposure and light irises may increase the risk of rare eye cancers, such as melanoma of the iris or uveal melanoma. In a survey conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 54 percent of people in the United States reported having light-colored eyes (blue, green, or hazel), but less than a third that light eyes are associated with a greater risk of certain eye diseases.

Prescription Medicines

Here are some medicines that may increase your risk of UV sensitivity include:

  • Antibiotics containing fluoroquinolones and tetracycline (including doxycycline and Cipro)
  • Specific birth control and estrogen pills (including Lovral and Premarin)
  • Phenothiazine (an anti-malarial)
  • Psoralens (used in treating psoriasis)
  • Photosensitizing drugs 
  • Anti-inflammatory pain relievers — ibuprofen and naproxen sodium have also been shown to cause photosensitivity, though the reaction is rare.

Always discuss and tell your eye doctor which medications you are taking.

Patients Who Have Had Cataract Surgery

More than 2 million Americans have had cataract surgery. The eye’s lens is removed during this procedure, leaving the eye more vulnerable to UV light. The natural lens is usually replaced by an intraocular lens (IOL). Older intraocular lenses absorb less UV light than ordinary glass or plastic eyeglass lenses. Manufacturers of IOLs now make most of their products UV-absorbent. If you have had cataract surgery, be sure to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and a hat for added protection. It is essential to consult with your eye doctor and be aware of UV exposure hazards.

Wearing your sunglasses and a brimmed hat is the answer to protecting your eyes from UV rays.

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References: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Optometric Association, and  Prevent Blindness

The content is researched and vetted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. American Optometric Association, and Prevent Blindness. This blog provides information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The content provided within this blog and any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered medical advice. If the reader or any person has a medical concern, they should consult with an appropriately licensed physician.

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