August 16, 2011
Majida Gaffar, MD
While most are aware of the dangers of excessive sun exposure to skin, many are not aware that ultraviolet (UV) light can harm eyes as well. UV rays can damage the eye’s surface tissue. Studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration as well as cancer of the eye.
Some helpful tips for adults and children alike:
- Wear sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection--even if you wear contact lenses with UV protection.
- Choose sunglasses that wrap around to the temples so UV rays can’t enter from the side.
- Wear a hat in addition to sunglasses.
- Be especially vigilant about protecting eyes during early afternoons and at high altitudes, where UV light is more intense.
- Never look directly at the sun. Doing so can hurt central vision due to retinal damage.
- Using tanning beds--which is never a good idea--can cause corneal burns and retinal damage without proper eye protection.