By Dr. Paul Lovero
After the solar eclipse this summer, there’s been a lot of discussion about the harmful effects of the sun on your eyes. As people peered up at the skies wearing silly glasses or watched the eclipse through a box, you might have asked yourself, “Just how harmful is the sun to my eyes?”
Plenty, in large doses. And large doses are what we get here in Houston, with an average of 204 days of sun. At our practice, Montrose Eye Care, we see many cases of sun damage, which could have been prevented with the right sunglasses.
Here are five reasons why we recommend you protect your eyes year-round from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Cataracts describe a condition in which the lens of your eye becomes cloudy, which can have a severe impact on your vision. Cataracts are very common, especially as you age. In fact, almost 50% of Americans develop some form of cataracts by the time they’re 80.
While aging can’t be stopped, there are a number of things you can do to slow down its impact on your vision. A great place to start is to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays with the proper eyewear. Medical researchers have found that chronic sunlight exposure can increase your risk of developing cataracts, making sunglasses a wise choice.
2. Skin cancer
Thanks to increasing awareness of the link between the sun and skin cancer, we’ve all become a lot better about slathering on the sunscreen before we go out. But if you’ve ever had sunscreen in your eyes, you know why most people avoid putting any SPF lotions near the area.
Sunglasses are a great way to protect the delicate skin that surrounds your eyes, including your eyelids, from the sun’s harmful UV rays. So, instead of potentially tearing up from irritating sunscreen lotion, pop on your sunglasses instead and protect your skin.
3. Surfer’s Eye
While just about everything associated with surfing is cool, surfer’s eye is one thing you can do without. Also called pterygium, surfer’s eye is a condition where tissue grows on the surface of your eye and under your eyelids, areas also called your conjunctiva. While surfer’s eye isn’t a dangerous condition, it isn’t the best-looking one either.
The reason it’s called surfer’s eye is because the condition can develop after significant exposure to the sun and wind, the two mainstays of surfing. Sunglasses provide both a barrier to the irritants and a shield against the sun, preventing surfer’s eye from making an unwelcome appearance.
Like every other part of your body, your eyes are susceptible to a sunburn, too. Your eyelids do a great job, instinctively closing if you look directly at the sun, but photokeratitis often develops after exposure to UV rays that reflect off of snow, sand, or water. So, while you may think that you’re playing it safe by not staring directly at the sun, UV rays can reach your eyes from the ground, too. Sunglasses are your best defense against UV rays, no matter where they’re coming from.
If you’re still feeling young and invincible, and you’re not afraid of the eye conditions we’ve just described, perhaps we can appeal to your vanity. Repeated squinting leads to early formation of wrinkles around your eyes. With your sunglasses in place, you can relax the muscle contractions around your eyes, which otherwise can cause well-worn lines on your face.
As long as we’re talking about cosmetic reasons for wearing sunglasses, we’d like to add that they’ve become an important fashion staple. At Montrose Eye Care, we have a large selection of designer sunglass frames for prescription sunglasses, which not only protect your eyes from harmful sun exposure, they’re a style asset, as well. The ultimate win-win combination.
Call us at Montrose Eye Care or book an appointment online to set yourself up for fashionable, year-round protection of your eyes.