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Are you protecting your eyes?

While some people use creams or serums to help eliminate the wrinkles caused by UV damage around their eyes, they may not realize their sunglasses are the first line of defense! In addition, there are other short term and long-term effects that UV damage can have on your eyes.

What is UV? UV light, or ultraviolet rays,have shorter wavelengths than visible light, making it undetectable to the human eye. UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C are the different types that make up UV light. UV-C is the most damaging. But luckily for us, it is absorbed by the atmosphere! So, we should be most concerned with protecting ourselves from UV-A and UV-B.

This is why it can be damaging to us unless we take precautions such as applying sunscreen or wearing sunglasses. While your contact lenses or eyeglass lenses do provide some UV protection for the eye, they still do not protect the thin skin surrounding the eye, or the entire cornea. Having a good pair of sunglasses to cover the skin around your eye is important. UV rays can easily cause skin cancer, so just as sunscreen is important, so are sunglasses. Protecting your entire cornea can help prevent Pterygium. . A Pterygium is a fleshy growth on the eye, that extends over the cornea. Another effect from UV damage is Photokeratitis. This is essentially a sunburn to your cornea, which creates bloodshot swollen eyes. Vision can be blurry for a few days as well. While the short-term effects of Photokeratitis will likely go away within a few days, always see an eye doctor to decrease risk of infection and remember that any UV damage can lead to some of the long-term effects.

Some of the more harmful long-term effects can be serious. Age related macular degeneration has been linked to UV exposure. This eye disorder makes your central vision blurry. It is the leading cause of blindness worldwide for Americans 65 and older. Early onset of Cataracts has also been known to be an effect from UV damage. A Cataract is when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Replacing the natural lens via surgery is the only way to treat a cataract. While it can become common in older age, excessive UV has been known to cause Cataracts earlier in life.

Remember that we can make prescription sunglasses if you are not a contact lens wearer. We have some of the top independent eyewear lines at Artisan Optical and they all have fabulous sunglasses that provide full UV protection. If you are experiencing any symptoms with your vision, it is important to call for an appointment right away. Dr. Jensen is happy to help, please call anytime!

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