BY KINGA AITKEN-BABOCZI MD MPH
A few facts about UV and HEV radiation, how they can harm your vision and why you should be always wearing sunglasses when outdoors:
It seems that in the past few years people have become more aware of the potential harm caused by excessive sun exposure, mainly for the skin (e.g. skin cancer). Prevention has been taken more seriously and sunscreen has been used more often than previously.
While this is a great advancement, who knew that UV radiations can damage your eyes?
Exposure to the sun`s ultraviolet radiation (UV) and high-energy visible radiation (HEV) or “blue light” have been associated with serious eye damage, even temporary vision loss. According to research individuals with low levels of vitamin C and antioxidants in their blood plasma are more at risk for retinal damage from HEV. The following symptoms are commonly experienced 6-12 hours after overexposure to UV radiation: eye swelling, excessive tearing, pain, bloodshot eyes, blurry vision, sensation of a foreign body in the eyes and light sensitivity associated with headache.
If you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms after excessive sun exposure you should contact RingMD`s expert ophthalmologist Dr. Leonard Ang for a free consultation.
How to prevent eye damage?
WEAR SUNGLASSES! It is not enough to wear sunglasses; you need to wear the RIGHT sunglasses.
How to pick the right pair?
Make sure your sunglasses block 100% of UV rays and also absorb most of the HEV rays. Choose close-fitted and wraparound sunglasses because they provide the best protection by minimizing the amount of sunlight that reaches your eyes from the sides.
UV levels increase with altitude;
UV levels are higher at the equator;
UV levels are highest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m;
UV and HEV levels are higher in open spaces;
UV levels are higher around reflective surfaces such as water, sand or snow,
Don`t get fooled by cloudy days, UV rays penetrate through clouds,
Kids are at higher risk for retinal damage because their lens are clearer compared to adults;
Even if you have contact lenses that block UV rays you should still wear sunglasses, lenses only protect the part of the eye they cover, the uncovered part is still at risk;
· Certain medication, such as birth control pills, tranquillizers, diuretics or tetracycline can increase your body`s sensitivity to UV and HEV radiation.