Summertime means fun in the sun. But while sun exposure carries benefits, without proper eye protection, ultraviolet rays can damage eyes.
Dr. Joseph Calderone, an opthalmologist at Better Vision New Jersey in Cranford, said there are three kinds of UV rays: UVA, UVB and UVC.
UVA rays can penetrate the eyes and reach the lens, where it can contribute to cataract development. It can also reach the retina, where it can play a major role in macular degeneration.
UVB rays are partially filtered by the ozone layer. The rays that do make it through can be absorbed by the cornea. UVB rays cause sunburns and eye problems other than cataracts or macular degeneration.
UVC rays are blocked by the ozone layer.
Calderone said people who spend a lot of time in the sun occupationally should protect their eyes from chronic repeated exposure. He also said manmade ultraviolet light causes damage to our eyes today.
“In our quest for that St. Tropez tan that many people turn to tanning salons for, they can overdo it, especially if they don’t wear eye protection while tanning,” said Calderone.
The other common manmade source of UV light is welding. Welders need to wear protection but not all people around them are adequately protected and they need to be as well, he said.
When a person spends the day at the beach in bright sunlight, which is not only coming out of the sky but reflecting off the water and sand, that person needs to be protected.
Calderone said the way to protect one’s eyes from potentially damaging UV rays is by wearing sunglasses. They protect against long term consequences like cataract development. This is especially important in the young population, said Calderone, because the majority of lifetime exposure to UV rays happens before the age of 18. So childhood is a very important time for UV protection.
Parents need to treat UV rays seriously in young children. He said kids should be wearing sunglasses at all times. To also reduce sun exposure, he suggested having kids playing indoors during peak sun light hours when the sun is high in the sky.
Calderone said to look for sunglasses that protect 100% against all ultraviolet light and fortunately that’s mostly what a person is going to find on sale today in America.
Lens color does not matter as long as the lenses are UV blocking. Wear sunglasses and families can have a memorable summer while protecting their vision.
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