by EDITH WEPPELMANN, OD
Do you enjoy watersports, fishing, golfing, hiking outdoors, or going to the beach?
Sunglasses are not only a fashion accessory. They keep you looking good by preventing wrinkles, and more importantly, they protect your eyes from the development of various diseases. Your shades work to protect your vision health and maximize your vision potential. Just as you always remember putting sunscreen on when you are going to the beach, your sunglasses should be worn each time you leave your home. Here are some reasons why:
- Direct sun exposure may cause photokeratitis, a sunburn of the eye. This can cause pain, teary eyes, and blurry vision. It is a temporary condition and usually goes away by itself in a few days.
- Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause more serious health concerns such as skin cancer on the eye itself, which is called conjunctival melanoma. There are also various types of tumors that can form around the eyelids, with basal skin cancer being the most common.
- If you have ever noticed a yellowish growth on the white part of your eye, it is called a pinguecula and is a result of sun damage. If that growth extends to the colored part of your eye, it is called pterygium. It can continue expanding with prolonged sun exposure and may cause irritation while also affecting your vision. In worse cases, it may have to be surgically removed.
- With age, we all will develop cataracts that cause cloudy vision and glare problems. However, wearing sunglasses can slow the progression of cataracts.
- Prolonged exposure to the sun, especially during the summer months of your 20s and 30s will put you at risk for early onset of macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the U.S. This may also be a factor in developing exfoliation glaucoma, which causes abnormal buildup of protein in the eye drainage system and other areas of the eye.
- Last but not least, sunglasses make you see better! Prescription lenses can maximize your vision and comfort. They will also decrease eye strain and keep your eyes safe from the brightness, especially while driving. When you are outdoors, your sunglasses will protect you from elements such as wind, sand, dust, or debris.
When selecting your sunglass lenses, make sure they are 100% UVA and UVB protective. Polarized glasses will reduce glare and enhance your vision. Larger frames would be better as they offer larger protection for your eyes and face. Make sure they fit well and that the frames are not too heavy, so that you will be comfortable wearing them each time you leave your house. Come to one of our locations and we will be able to help you pick out your new sunglasses!
BIO: Edith Weppelmann is a board-certified optometrist who sees patients at multiple locations for Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida. She specializes in primary care optometry and is currently accepting new patients. Call us at 800-282-3937 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Weppelmann or visit us online at EYESFL.COM.
This column is sponsored by Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFHN or of its advertisers.