The same sun rays that lead to skin cancer and premature aging of the skin are just as bad for your eyes, according to Dr. Brad Bodkin, optometric physician. The culprit is ultraviolet (UV) rays and because May is National UV Awareness Month, Dr. Bodkin encourages everyone to be “sun-wise with your eyes.”
“Unprotected exposure to UV radiation can cause photokeratitis, which is basically sunburn of the eyes marked by painful, red eyes and a sensitivity to light,” Dr. Bodkin said. “The symptoms usually clear up quickly and cause no permanent damage to the eyes. Growing evidence, however, suggests that long-term exposure to UV rays can lead to macular degeneration and cataracts – serious eye conditions that can cause vision impairment or loss.”
Dr. Bodkin suggests the following to protect your eyes from serious damage:
• If at all possible, limit your time in the sun
• Wear a wide-brimmed hat
• Wear sunglasses that filter at least 99% of UV rays
“Don’t forget the children,” Dr. Bodkin said. “Children are especially susceptible to eye damage from the sun. The lenses in their eyes do not block as much UV radiation as in adults. Follow the same precautions as you would for an adult, but be sure to choose sunglasses that fit their smaller faces, have impact-resistant lenses, and have lenses large enough to shield the entire eye.”
Dr. Brad Bodkin owns and practices at The Vision Center at Seaside Farms, located at 1956 Long Grove Drive in Mount Pleasant. He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry as well as a member of the American Optometric Association.