Protecting our eyes in the winter is essential for preventing short and long term problems.
Eye dryness is very common, especially on cold brisk days. Finding comfort near a warm toasty heater or fireplace can dry the eye surface too. Maintain good eyelid hygiene, stay hydrated and use artificial tears to control mild dry eye symptoms.
Sunglasses are important for preventing keratitis (a burn on the cornea surface) and aging effects such as cataracts, pinguecula and macular degeneration. Snow-blindness or keratitis is a painful corneal condition that can occur when the outermost layers of the cornea are damaged (like a sunburn). Damage can occur in as little as an hour of exposure to ultraviolet radiation, the risk is intensified at higher altitude.
Damage to the eye doesn’t stop on the surface. Cumulative ultraviolet exposure damages the lens of the eye causing cataract formation. Research has also found that UV radiation contributes to macular degeneration.
Wearing good UV blocking sunglasses protects all layers of the eye. The UV radiation reflected off of water and snow is dangerous too.
Don’t hang-up your sunglasses because it is winter, year-round UV protection is a proactive way to promote good eye health and clear vision for adults and children.
Most of us take precautions to protect our skin from the damaging sun radiation by putting on a hat and applying sunscreen.
A significantly smaller percentage of people put on sunglasses to protect the eyes from the same ultraviolet risks. Besides glare and discomfort from the brightness, the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun cause premature aging to the skin around the eye and the structures of the eye. In fact, the sun is the greatest environmental factor contributing to cataract formation.
SUNGLASSES provide a barrier to other eye irritants as well. Wearing sunglasses protects the eyes from wind, dust, pollen and debris. This is particularly beneficial for sports like cycling and running.
COMFORT from good quality sunglasses is attributed to reducing glare and eliminating squinting. Glare can be direct from the light source or indirected (reflected). Reflected glare is eliminated best with polarized lenses. Polarized lenses are especially helpful for watersports, fishing and on the snow, skiing and snowboarding.
QUALITY SUNGLASSES will protect against all UV wavelengths (A,B and high energy wavelengths). The lenses will be centered and have clearer optics than the sunglasses you find at the grocery store and gas stations. A premium sunglass frame is comfortable, fits well and is durable. It is also resistant to corrosion, tarnish, peeling and chipping.
Long-Term UV damage cannot be repaired. It is cumulative. Protect your eyes today, wear quality sunglasses.
And don’t forget the kids, they are more susceptible to UV damage than adults.
Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light may cause cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), skin cancer, sunburns, and premature aging of the skin. Wearing good quality sunglasses can protect the eyes from harmful effect of UV light.
When it comes to choosing sunglasses, the options are endless and confusing. Not all lenses are equal in terms of UV and blue light protection. Here are a few tips on selecting good optical quality of the lens and the correct level of protection.
The light spectrum is categorized by wavelength. If the light is in the visible spectrum, the wavelengths will determine its color. If it is in the ultraviolet range, these wavelengths determine its UV category (A, B or C)
A relatively new term, blue light can damage the retina, leading to AMD and blurring of vision.
The color, or tint, of the sunglass lens does not affect its UV and blue light protection. In fact, you can get UV 400 protection in some clear lens materials. To learn more about the different color of sun lenses, click here.
When choosing a sunglass frame, the most important thing to consider is its fit. The frame should fit close to your eyes and face to reduce the entry of bounce back glare. The frame has to be big enough to provide appropriate coverage and protection for your eyes.
Most quality sunglasses will be available with your own prescription so you can enjoy clear vision outdoors.
Clip-on sunglasses are available for most prescription glasses. Although these are an acceptable compromise, they add to the weight of you glasses. Also, there will be internal reflection between the two sets of lenses that decreases the quality of your vision.
Select a frame style appropriate for your lifestyle. Fashion sunglasses are beautiful and fully functional at the beach and for running errands. A different style, something lightweight more durable better suited for sports and athletic activities.
Westside Optometry carries the following sunglasses: Maui Jim, Nike, Gucci, Kate Spade, Saks Fifth Avenue and Aspire.
Usually I am preaching the dangers of Ultraviolet (UV) exposure, and I will do a bit of that, but there are some benefits to sunshine.
Vitamin D – Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods. It is produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from the sun strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. It is essential for maintaining bone health. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium in the gut to enable normal bone growth and maintenance. It may also protect against the development of cancer, autoimmunity, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, type I and II diabetes and infectious disease. Although vitamin D can be obtained through vitamin supplementation, most people in the world derive their vitamin D from sun exposure.
Low vitamin D levels may increase the chance of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a minimum exposure to UV light may be necessary for the production of vitamin D. (this does not mean it is OK to stare at the sun). UV exposure should be moderate; too much and the risk for AMD increases, as does the risk with too little UV.
There are acute effects on the eyes from too much sun exposure such as photokeratitis (a sunburn on the surface of the eye). Long-term UV exposure can cause cataracts and pterygium (a growth on the white of the eye). Wearing sunglasses when outdoors is a simple way to prevent over-exposure of UV light to the eyes.
The amount of protection from sunglasses varies depending on the material of the lens and added coatings. For maximum protection look for lenses that block 90% of UVA and 99% of UVB.
Currently, the UV index can be used as a rough guide for knowing when the skin and eyes need protection. Sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8 or more appear to block vitamin D producing UV rays. Because we typically do not apply sufficient amounts of sunscreen or cover all exposed skin, synthesis of vitamin D probably occurs. The maximum amount of exposure needed to maintain normal vitamin D levels is 30 minutes twice a week. For some people 5 minutes twice a week is adequate. Again moderation, more is not better.
According to a 2013 survey by the American Optometric Association, only 40% of Americans wear sunglasses for the ultraviolet (UV) protection. I assume other reasons people put on sunglasses are to block glare, provide comfort and to look good.
Sun protection matters year-round
Are you active in winter sports such as snowboarding? UV protection is needed no matter the season. Consider this: UV radiation increases by about 4% with every 1000 feet elevation gain – and those rays keep coming even on cloudy days.
UV exposure can do short-term eye damage
You may not know about sunburn of the eye or photokeratitis. This condition comes from excessive exposure to UV rays. It’s not permanent, but can be extremely painful.
The sun can lead to long-term vision loss
Sunglasses make a difference for kids, too
I hope parents are slathering sunscreen on their kids before a day at the beach. Sunglasses are important too. A child’s eyes are more sensitive than an adult’s so the need for protection is more critical at a very young age.
Tuesday night we left the office a little early to attend a seminar on the newest Transition Lenses. Most people are familiar with spectacle lenses that get dark when you go outdoors, and lighten again when inside.
This newest generation Transition Signature VII lens with Chromea7 technology was created with the user in mind. The Chromea 7 molecule is more reactive to ultraviolet in more situations. It gets darker on hot days, under a tree and facing away from the sun. The new Transition 7 also fades back to clear 20% faster.
Like all products in the Transition Adaptive lens family (XTRActive and Vantage) the Transition VII blocks 100% UVa and UVb. All the adaptive lenses help eyes adjust to changing light levels, providing more comfortable vision.
If it has been years since you’ve tried the transition lenses, it may be time to try them again. This isn’t the same lens your grandfather wore.
Winter winds and moisture zapping heaters can cause dry, red and irritated eyes.
Tears are essential for good eye health and clear vision. They bathe the eye, washing out dust and debris, and keep the surface moist and clear. The natural tear film also contains enzymes that neutralize microorganisms, reducing the risk of eye infections.
The most common signs and symptoms of dry eyes are persistent dryness and irritation, scratchiness, a burning feeling in your eyes and red eyes. Oddly enough, dry eye syndrome also can make your eyes watery, as dryness can cause a protective overproduction of the watery component of your tears.
Cold winter wind outdoors and dry heat indoors can cause or worsen dry eyes. Follow these tips to keep dry eyes at bay.
Dry eyes may not be completely curable in certain cases, but the unpleasant dryness, scratchiness and burning sensation can be managed. We are carrying a new artificial tear called Oasis that contains long-molecule hyaluronic acid which keeps the moisture on the eye longer. Click here to read more about dry eye syndrome.