When you think about the damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, what immediately comes to mind is how to shield our skin from the harmful radiation. But, the sun can also pose serious harm to our eyes and the delicate skin around them. Whether it’s sunny or cloudy, we are exposed to the invisible UV rays every day. If you are not sure why it’s vital to use UV protection for the eyes, read on to learn more about the eye conditions you may develop due to prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays.
Radiation from the sun can negatively impact your eyes and vision in many ways. Here are some of the health effects of UV radiation on your eyes:
Photokeratitis. Also known as ultraviolet keratopathy, this temporary condition is like having a sunburned eye. It is a painful eye problem caused by staring at the sun directly without proper eyewear. Photokeratitis can also be due to the sun’s reflection from water, snow, ice, and sand. Like a sunburn on the skin, photokeratitis is often noticed only until after the damage has occurred.
Pinguecula. People with long-term exposure to the sun’s UV light may develop an eye condition called a pinguecula. It is a tiny, non-cancerous, yellowish bump of fat, protein, or calcium deposit on the conjunctiva. The raised growth often develops on the side of the eye closest to the nose and may be found on one or both eyes. People with pinguecula may experience redness, swelling, burning, itching, dryness, gritty feeling, and blurred vision.
Pterygium. Continued exposure to harmful UV rays can also cause pterygium. It is a reddish, pinkish, or yellowish growth of triangular or wing-shaped fleshy tissue on the conjunctiva. It may start as a pinguecula and remain small. But, it can also grow large enough to cover and scar part of your cornea. This can affect vision, even result in permanent vision loss or impairment. Pterygium symptoms usually include redness, dryness, itching, gritty feeling, and burning sensation in one or both eyes.
Cataracts. Inside your eyes is a clear, natural lens that bends light rays, allowing you to see. Years of UV light exposure can cause the protein in your eyes’ lenses to clump and thicken. This eye condition is known as cataract, which is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. If you have this eye condition, your lens will be cloudy, preventing light from passing through the lenses. This will make things look hazy, blurry, and less colorful. Cataract symptoms may also include double vision, extra sensitivity to light, and difficulty seeing well at night.
Macular Degeneration. Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays can also damage the retina. Macular degeneration (MD) happens when the small central part of your retina, known as the macula, wears down. This loss in the central vision can lead to blurred and, eventually, blank spaces in your vision. MD is an eye disease that worsens as you get older. It doesn’t usually result in blindness. But, it’s the leading cause of severe vision problems in people over the age of 50.
Avoid these health effects by using proper UV protection for your eyes. Contact Miller Vision Center in Norman, Oklahoma, today to find out what stylish eyewear you can use to shield your eyes from harmful radiation.