Dr. Anastasios-I. Kanellopoulos, Ophthalmologist, among other things, mentions what you should do to protect your eyes from ultraviolet radiation.
Although most of us know that we should protect our skin from the sun, we forget that protecting our eyes from ultraviolet radiation is equally important, especially during the summer.
“The right sunglasses are essential for both children and adults as they provide significant protection not only for the eyes but also for the area around them.”
There are three types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC.
UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not pose a threat to vision (or the skin).
UVA and UVB have short-term and long-term consequences on the eyes and vision, as stated by Dr. Anastasios-I. Kanellopoulos, MD, Ophthalmologist, founder and scientific director of LaserVision, and Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of New York.
Sunburn of the eyes
“When the eyes are exposed to large amounts of UV radiation for a short period, it can lead to a condition called photokeratitis, which can be described as sunburn of the eyes. It causes redness and a sensation of foreign body or sand grains in the eyes. It also results in heightened sensitivity to light and tearing, often accompanied by intense eye pain.”
Αbsolutely, photokeratitis is the cause of vision loss for those who spend long periods in the snow without wearing sunglasses.
Generally, the longer the exposure of the eyes to solar radiation, the higher the likelihood of developing serious damage both to the superficial tissues of the eye (mainly the cornea and the crystalline lens) and to those located deep within the eyes, such as the choroid.,” emphasizes the professor.
These damages can manifest in the long term as serious conditions, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancer on the eyelids or inside the eye (ocular melanoma).
“However, since we do not know exactly how much exposure to ultraviolet radiation is required to cause damage to the eyes, it is recommended that both children and adults never go out in the sun without high-quality sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat,” emphasizes Dr. Kanellopoulos.
Adequate protection of the eyes from UVA and UVB radiation.
Sunglasses for adequate protection should block 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation, repel 75-90% of visible light, have lenses with consistent color without imperfections, and preferably have gray-tinted lenses to allow good color recognition of the surroundings.
“It is important for the sunglasses to cover the eyes from the sides as well since solar radiation can be reflected from smooth surfaces, thus reaching the eyes at an angle.”
Research has shown that water reflects up to 100% of UV rays, while dry sand and concrete reflect up to 25%, and even grass reflects a small percentage. Those who participate in activities or sports that may lead to eye injuries should use glasses with polycarbonate or trivex lenses, two synthetic materials that offer high resistance in case of impact.
individuals belonging to high-risk groups for UV radiation damage include
While solar radiation can indeed cause problems for everyone’s eyes, there are certain population groups that belong to high-risk categories,” emphasizes Dr. Kanellopoulos, who refers to the issues and risks that individuals in these groups face, such as:
“Young children are at a higher risk as they are frequently exposed to the sun more than adults while playing outdoors. The annual sun exposure for children is three times higher than that of adults. However, only 5% of adults report that their children always wear sunglasses, and 15% admit that they don’t even wear hats. Children are at significant risk of eye disorders due to sun exposure because their eye lenses are immature and do not effectively filter UV rays, leading to high levels of UV reaching deep into their eyes.
- Additionally, individuals with blue or light green eyes who go out in the sun without sunglasses and a hat are at an increased risk of developing rare forms of eye cancer, such as iris or choroid melanoma.
- People who have undergone cataract surgery, as the cloudy natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, are more exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, especially if the artificial lens implanted is of an older type (newer lenses are more absorbent). Therefore, those who have had cataract surgery should not go out in the sun without sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Patients taking medications that increase photosensitivity may also make their eyes sensitive to the sun. Some drugs in this category include certain antibiotics (fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines), oral contraceptives and estrogen-containing medications, psoralens (used for skin conditions like psoriasis), certain diuretics, and tranquilizers.
Αν παίρνετε συστηματικά φάρμακα για οποιονδήποτε λόγο, συζητήστε με τον οφθαλμίατρό σας το ενδεχόμενο να προκαλούν φωτοευαισθησία», καταλήγει ο δρ Κανελλόπουλος.