YOUR HEALTH: Keep an eye on ultraviolet safety
Most of us apply sunscreen to protect our skin during the warmer months. But are you as cautious when it comes to protecting your eyes?
Since those warmer months are just around the corner (call me an optimist!), now’s a good time for a primer on protecting your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Studies consistently show that exposure to bright sunlight can increase the risk of cataracts, (www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/amd.cfm) age-related macular degeneration and growths on the eye – and even cancer.
Ultraviolet radiation can also damage the eye’s surface tissue, cornea and lens. The same risks apply to tanning beds.
Here are a few tips for protecting your eyes from the sun:
- Wear UV-blocking sunglasses. Keep in mind that the ability to block UV light is not dependent on the price or how dark the lenses are. Make sure your sunglasses block both UVA and UVB rays, and choose a “wraparound” style.
- Wear a broad-rimmed hat when out in the sun. Don’t rely on contact lenses. Even if your lenses have UV protection, wear your sunglasses as well.
- Don’t let clouds deceive you. The sun’s rays can pass through haze and thin clouds. Also, note that the sun can damage your eyes any time of year – thus wintertime UV protection is essential for eye health.
- Never look directly at the sun, which can damage your retinas.
- Do your best to avoid exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are strongest.
Still hitting the slopes? Early spring is when skiers are exposed to the highest levels of UV radiation, and a 2010 study revealed most skiers do not consistently protect themselves. Look for ski goggles that block UVA and UVB rays.
Dr. Adam Reid is an optometrist with Mosaic Vision Care in Courtenay. To make an appointment, call 250-334-4512 or visit www.mosaicvisioncare.com.