OT - Women Wednesday
Are you rocking Summer with a cool pair of sunglasses? If not, you should be!
Protecting the eyes from the sun is just as important as protecting the skin. Most people are aware of the dangers of exposing the skin to too much sunlight, and many of us make an effort to slather on some sunscreen to protect our skin from wrinkles, premature aging, and skin cancer.
But a lot of people forget that the same harmful rays from the sun can also damage our eyes and lead to conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration and eye strain. YIKES! This is why wearing sunglasses on sunny days is just as important as wearing sunscreen.
The sun’s rays contain ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and it is this that causes damage to skin and eyes. There are two kinds: UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deep into the body’s tissues, causing wrinkling, sagging and aging of the skin. UVB rays are more harmful and cause damage to the upper layers of skin, resulting in sunburn and contributing to the development of skin cancer.
Both of these rays can also cause damage to a number of parts of the eyes, including:
- The white of your eye, which can cause a thickening of the conjunctiva (the thin ‘skin’ covering the white of the eye).
- The retina which sits at the back of the eye and absorbs light to create pictures. If this is damaged it can cause macular degeneration.
- The lens, which can lead to the development of cataracts.
- The iris – the colored part of the eye – which is more easily damaged if you have blue eyes.
- The cornea which protects the front of the eye. This can become sunburned which is very painful and can cause temporary blindness. Repeated exposure of this kind can also lead to cataracts.
- The eyelids – the skin here is one of thinnest areas of skin on the body, so can easily become burnt and damaged.
As well as the physical damage done by the sun, the exposure to bright light can cause eye strain. This is because the eyes are overworked by constantly squinting against the sun, particularly when driving or reading a book outdoors. This can cause headaches, sore eyes and dry eyes, and make it difficult to concentrate.
You should wear sunglasses on sunny days, during the majority of the day – most health advisors recommend between 10am and 4pm as this is when the sun’s rays are strongest and the eyes most vulnerable to damage. The closer you live to the equator, the stronger the sun’s rays will be, so the more often you will need to wear them.
It is often advisable to refrain from wearing sunglasses in the morning or evening when the sun’s rays are weaker. This is because, like the skin, the eyes need a certain level of natural sunlight to promote healthy functioning. In particular, sunlight through the eyes stimulates the hypothalamus which regulates our biological clock and our hormones, keeping us healthy, energetic and happy. Overuse of sunglasses can also sometimes cause the eyes to become extra sensitive to light, even if it isn’t that bright.
When buying sunglasses, you should always check the label to make sure they either confirm that they provide 99-100% UV absorption (simply saying ‘absorbs UV’ is not enough), or that they state ‘UV 400’ on the label. For driving, make sure your sunglasses don’t restrict your peripheral vision as this can be dangerous. If your favorite sunglasses are not up to snuff, check with your optician. They might be able to apply the necessary UV protective chemical layer!
What’s your favorite pair of shades? Mine: purple frames with deep purple lenses (prescription and 100% UV absorption!).