The powerful ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun can damage the tissues in and around your eyes, leading to a number of troubling conditions. Fortunately, wearing UV-blocking eyeglasses can help minimize the harm done to these delicate sensory organs. Here are just some of the ways in which unfiltered sunlight can affect your vision and even your overall health:
Photokeratitis, also known as “snow blindness,” is a painful and temporarily debilitating condition that occurs when the cornea becomes inflamed. This short-lived effect of intense sun exposure can be likened to a sunburn of the eyes, and is most commonly caused by all-day exposure to surfaces reflecting UV light, such as snow, sand, concrete, and water.
Linked to prolonged UV exposure, cataracts are the most common cause of blindness worldwide. They occur when proteins in the lens of the eye begin to break down, clouding the vision. Fortunately, cataracts are very treatable—an ophthalmologist can surgically replace the damaged or aged lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) for clearer vision.
When the macula of the eye is damaged, patients may experience reduced acuity in their central field of vision. Laser surgery may help minimize the effects of this condition, but avoiding UV exposure is the best way to promote healthy vision.
Long-term sun exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer, particularly in the delicate region surrounding the eye. Basal cell carcinoma, which tends to affect the lower eyelids, is the most common form of cancer in the eye area. In addition, melanoma can occur within the eyeball, although this is quite rare.
Your risk of developing these conditions can be greatly reduced by wearing sunglasses that block UV light. Eye Care Associates of St. Louis’ optical shop offers a variety of designer and fashion-forward sunglasses for use with or without prescription lenses. Call us at (314) 863-4200 to learn how we can help you protect your vision!