Doctor's orders: Stop by the Eye Center and pick out your summer shades!

Most people understand that we must protect our skin from sun damage, but many may not know that there are reasons to wear sunglasses other than keeping up with the latest fashion. Ultraviolet rays (UV) can not only harm the eyes but also affect vision.

How can the sun affect my eyes?

  • Cataracts – The eye contains a lens that helps to focus the light into our eye in order to make a clear image (similar to the lens in a camera). The way that we protect this lens can impact how early it becomes cloudy- thus causing decreased and hazy vision. Cataracts are a result of not only normal changes due to aging, but also a result of many other factors like smoking, medications, and UV damage. These changes are cumulative and it is never too late to start protecting your lens from the environment!
  • Pinguecula/Pterygium – This is the fancy name for a type of cellular change that happens to the bulbar conjunctiva (the white part of the eyes). The result of sun damage to this tissue is a yellow fatty type deposit that can usually be seen more on the side of your eye closest to your nose. This can also creep onto the cornea (the clear central part of the eye) and eventually affect the vision, but for most people will serve as a cosmetic annoyance. These are changes that can be prevented or stopped by decreasing the amount of UV light that reaches the eye.
  • Macular Degeneration – The macula is the part of the retina that provides central vision. While macular degeneration is not caused by UV damage, persons at risk for macular degeneration and thus who have already have been diagnosed with the condition are encouraged to wear sun protection in order to shield their macula from any future damage.
  • How do I protect my eyes from UV damage?

    • Sunglasses with 100% UV protection. Even if you wear prescription eyeglasses, you can have almost any pair of designer sunglasses made into a personalized pair of prescription sunwear!
    • UV protection built into your regular eyeglasses. Even if you don’t have Transitions lenses (that change from light to dark in the sun), you should at least have a clear UV coat on your lenses to protect you from UV rays.
    • Contacts can protect you too! You may not even realize that your contacts have UV protection as well! Many companies have incorporated the valuable protection into their lenses. Ask your doctor if your lenses protect your eyes from the sun.

    So get out there and enjoy your summer and make sure to stop by the Eye Center and pick out a great looking pair of shades; you can say it was “doctor’s orders”!

    Dr. Amanda Nanasy, O.D.