Sunglasses may be stylish, but they also provide important protection for our eyes! By blocking harmful ultraviolet radiation from entering our eyes, we can help limit how much damage is being done. Starting with the surface of the skin around our eyes, through our lens and to our maculas, UV damage can contribute to many disease processes.
It is important to remember the skin around our eyes is just as susceptible to cancerous changes as the rest of our bodies. The larger frame size of sunwear actually helps block rays from reaching areas that our everyday glasses may not shield us from. Though some contact lenses include UV protection, it is important to wear sunglasses to protect the outside of our eyes as well as the inside.
Common non-cancerous changes to the outer layers of our eyes include strange sounding terms like pingueculae (pin-GWEK-yu-lah) and pterygia (te-RIJ-ee-uh). These are thickened areas of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane that lines the inner eyelids and outer surface of the eye. When a pinguecula grows toward our corneas, it is referred to as a pterygium. This is when scarring of the cornea and changes to vision is a concern.
UV radiation can also lead to changes in the lens of our eyes. This is one contributing factor to cataracts, a clouding of the lens. We cannot prevent the age-related formation of cataracts, but we can keep the UV damage from leading to cataracts earlier in life.
Macular degeneration is also a disease to which UV damage contributes. Our macula is the part of our retinas that provide our best vision. When there are deposits (called drusen) near our maculas, our vision can be permanently affected.
The quality of sunwear makes all the difference. At Visionary Eye Care, we only offer sunwear released by well known manufacturers that guarantee UVA and UVB protection. Year-round sun protection is not only fashionable, but will keep your eyes healthy and seeing well!