Summertime is upon us. The weather is warming up. I remember myself squinting for the longest time when the rainy and cloudy days of April and May gave way to the sunshine days of summer.
And with the summer is more time outdoors. Hopefully, when you spend some time out in the sun, you lather up the SPF 500 so that you skin doesn't fall off when you get older. It's also important to protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays as well.
The UV can affect the front, the inside AND the back of your eye.
The front: For those who do a lot of fishing or boating, spending numerous hours on the water can cause a lot of reflected glare from the water's surface. This can actually cause a sunburn on the cornea (similar to a welder's flash) and can be very painful. The skin around the eye is very thin and sensitive, and very prone to damage from the sun's rays.
The inside: There is a lens inside each eye and as everyone gets older, this lens can develop a cataract of varying degrees. Some studies have shown that UV radiation can accelerate the formation of cataract growth.
The back: Have you ever heard of macular degeneration? (If not, see my previous blog post.) Well, not only is getting older and smoking increase your risk of getting the disease, but so is UV exposure. Your eyes focus all the light that enters your eye onto the macula to allow you to see. So if you're getting years and years of UV light getting in there as well, it's going to cause some toxic damage to the sensitive retinal tissue in the back of your eyes.
So what should you do about all of this? Well, for starters, wear SUNGLASSES for cryin' out loud, but not just any old sunglasses. Make sure they provide 100% UV protection AND make sure they are polarized. The polarization will provide the most comfortable vision by reducing reflective glare off of road surfaces, other automobiles, snow, water, your wet dog...you get the idea.
People who wear contact lenses should have the polarized UV sunglasses to protect the eyes. However, what about those who don't wear contacts? Certain materials and certain eyeglass lens options have UV protection built-in to that feature: the ultra-thin lenses (Hi Index) do this, Transition lenses (change from dark to light to dark) do this, polycarbonate lenses (the most shatter-resistant lenses) do this. If you feel you don't need any of these features, you can get a UV coating applied to your eyeglasses to protect your eyes. Also, clip-on lenses (to convert your regular glasses to sunglasses) are typically polarized and provide 100% UV protection as well.
(NOTE: We just got the customized Cocoon Clip-On lenses in the office. Make sure to stop by the office to check them out. Only $34.95 to convert your regular glasses to kickin' suns!)
So, make sure your eyes are protected from the UV, which we all know is bad. And if you need a customized recommendation, make sure to visit your local, friendly optometrist. :)