By Margarita Nahapetyan
Every single day, no matter be it sunny or cloudy, and regardless of the season, people are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Most of the time they do not even realize it, as UV radiation is invisible to the eye. That is why the experts recommend that everyone, including children, wear sunglasses with at least 99 per cent UV protection while spending time outdoors during the day.
Sunglasses serve an important purpose: protecting eyes from the harmful rays. The vast majority of individuals are well aware of the need to protect their skin from the sun, but not everybody knows that it is equally critical to protect eyes. Previous studies have shown that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing conditions, such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and growths on the eye, including cancer.
In addition, too much unprotected exposure to UV rays can lead to "photokeratitis." Just like a sunburn on the skin, photokeratitis is sunburn of the eye. It hurts, makes the eyes red, tearful and extremely sensitive to light. These symptoms usually do not persist long and are associated with no permanent damage to the eye. However, exposure to UV radiation without protection and over long periods of time, can damage the eye, and the effects are not good at all. The exposure to the sun without sunglasses can significantly increase the chances of the retina damage. the condition can seriously impair vision, and it is rarely possible to reverse it.
Most of the time in summer, kids spend outdoors and therefore that are more susceptible to harmful UV rays. Millions of parents are putting their children's vision at risk, the experts say, and their risk is higher because the lens in their eye does not block as much UV rays as they do in adults' eyes, putting them at increased risk for sun damage to the eyes.
According to the findings of one recent survey, almost 50 per cent of parents reported that their children never, or i rare cases wear sunglasses with 100 per cent UV protection. In spite of the fact that 82 per cent of parents realize that it is important for their offspring to wear sunglasses and 91 per cent understand that sunscreen should be applied, children are two times more likely to wear sunscreen rather than they are sunglasses.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends to followe these tips in order to protect your eyes:
Choose sunglasses that block UV rays. Keep in mind that darker lenses do not necessarily mean that you will be getting more protection. And remember, that the ability to block UV rasdiation is not dependent on the price tag.
Make sure your sunglasses block between 97 per cent to 100 per cent of UV-A rays and UV-B rays.
Select sunglasses that are large enough to shield your eyes from all angles. Wrap-around lenses are the best. Ideally, the sunglasses should wrap all the way around to temples so the sun's rays cannot enter from the side.
Do not think that contact lenses could substitute sunglasses. Even if your contacts provide UV protection, still you need to wear sunglasses.
Do not be tricked by clouds. The harmful rays can pass through haze and thin clouds. Sun damage to eyes can happen any time throughout the year.
Sunglasses should be worn whenever you leave your house. It is especially important to wear sunglasses in the early afternoon and at higher altitudes, where UV radiation is more intense.
The most complicated and tricky part is that some sunglasses may claim to provide you with maximum protection from the sun's UV rays, but the experts say that no one is checking those claims. "Even if sunglasses have a sticker on it which says we absorb 100 per cent of UV light, it may or may not be true," they said. So, the conclusion is - get your sunglasses tested. A lot of ophthalmologists have special testing machines in their offices, and will be willing to help you solve the problem.