Summer in the City!!
Finally, blue skies and baseball and music festivals and days at the park…. I have been waiting for this forever! Or since last year. And if you are a current patient of mine, you know that everyone who leaves my office gets the warning – wear UV protection!! Why? Well, because UV light can cause our eyes to age more quickly, just like it does to our skin. And just like skin damage, UV damage to our eyes is cumulative over time. That means that the younger you start wearing sunglasses – the better.
What kind of damage can UV cause? Good question. UV light can cause each different part of our eyes to age in different ways…. Let me explain:
The Retina: UV damage to the macula has long been known to trigger a disease called Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). This disease can destroy central vision and there is no cure. Because it is “age related” I stress to my patients to do the things that helps to prevent aging – UV protection, eat well/good nutrition, and don’t smoke! Prevention is key to avoiding this disease.
The Lens: your natural lens of the eye is a major player in your refractive error and therefore plays a big role in how well you see. Over time, the natural lens of the eye yellows and does not let light pass through it quite as easily to get to the retina and this reduces visual acuity. Color, detail, and contrast are also reduced. What I am describing is the formation of a cataract. UV light, smoking, medications, and poor health help to accelerate this process, so again, another great reason to wear your sunglasses.
The conjunctiva: UV can cause an ugly discoloration and thickening of the exposed part of the conjunctiva, called a pinguecula. The sun is mainly responsible for these and, although they do not cause a change in vision, cosmetically, they are pretty unappealing. They can also exacerbate dry eye symptoms and cause inflammation.
The Lids: WRINKLES! Enough said. Wear your sunglasses. Big ones.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you about the importance of UV protection and I’ll leave you with this thought that I tell all my patients; “you can’t put sunscreen on your eyeballs, so wear sunglasses!”