Summer is Here, Do you have your Sunglasses Ready?
Why is UV protection with sunglasses important?
In as little as 15 minutes, sun exposure can produce harmful effects on our bodies, including our eyes1. The CDC has recently released an article emphasizing not only daily skin protection, but also eye protection for this very reason. Depending on where you live, or under which conditions you work, if you are exposed to large amounts of UV radiation in a small period of time, you could develop a condition called photokeratitis. Photokeratitis is essentially a “sunburn” for your eyes which entails symptoms of: dryness, excessive tearing, sandiness, and light sensitivity2. Although these symptoms are temporary, they are often an extreme nuisance and ultimately with repeated occurrence can create long term visual problems2. When educating patients, Dr. Farah Gozini, a mother herself, always uses the example of children playing outdoors.
What we see here often at Good Eye Optometry are complaints from mothers noticing their children’s eyes are red after playing outside. The answer is not to have your children avoid outdoor activity, because in fact, outdoor activity has been linked to diminish myopia progression (near sightedness)3. Instead, using polarized sunglasses provides optimal visual clarity as well as UV protection.
In regards to long term exposure, there is research linking UV radiation to not only cataract, but also pinguecula formation4,5. Cataracts are a phenomenon where there is a gradual clouding of your optical lens6. With cataracts, in addition to the diminished vision, they can also cause problems with night driving and glare sensitivity6. Patients with cataracts often complain of being very light sensitive, and seeing distortion around street lights and signs while driving at night. Although not diagnostic, it is one of the considerations a practitioner looks for. Cataracts are not just a consideration for older patients, but here in Southern California, where we are fortunate to have sun nearly year round, Dr. Gozini and Dr. Pham emphasize the use of sunglass protection at every age.
Pingueculas and pterygiums are also known as “Surfer’s eye”, primarily because so many surfers are exposed to UV radiation causing this condition. Pingueculas are an ingrowth of ocular tissue known as the conjunctiva7. While Pingueculas are more the yellowing effect and are isolated to the sclera, pterygiums are the product of conjunctival overgrowth onto the cornea7. This becomes an issue because it causes symptoms of dryness, irritation, and in some instances, inflammation associated with pain and discomfort7. Additionally, if pterygiums worsen enough, they can distort the cornea, inducing an astigmatism and therefore changing your prescription. As Brentwood neighbors many beach cities such as Santa Monica and Venice, countless patients are at risk everyday. For outdoor sporting activity, polarized lenses come highly recommended as they cut down the glare from all sources of light.
What can I do to prevent this?
The short answer: SUNGLASSES! With all these conditions, ultimately, surgical intervention when appropriate is the only cure. As optometrists, Dr. Gozini and Dr. Pham at the Good Eye Optometry want to prevent surgery as an option whenever possible. The best way to do so is to practice prevention with sunglasses. At Good Eye Optometry, we want our patients to have the protection of sunglasses with the luxury of style and premier optical quality with polarized lenses. While the optical provides ample styles for all face shapes and personalities, Dr. Gozini and Dr. Pham are most concerned with the ocular health of all their patients in not only in Brentwood, but throughout all Southern California. Being fortunate to have access to sun and a constant flow of outdoor activities just means that we need to be precautious and always protect our vision.