Can you damage your pretty eyes by neglecting to wear sunglasses? In short, (no point skirting around this fact), the answer is: yes.
Now time for an elaboration: There has long been active discussion, since the dawn of time it seems, surrounding the necessity of sunglasses with respect to protection and eye health.
Research, lots and lots of it, has indicated that exposure to UV rays can and will lead to eye damage and common diseases such as: macular degeneration, cataracts, pterygia and photo keratitis (temporary loss of vision).
There are however, some differences in the resulting damage from short and long term exposure to the sun’s harmful rays:
Short term effects
If you step outside into the sunshine for a moment or two, on your lunch break in the summer to escape the humid office air or for a walk to the shops under the white winter sky, the chances of your eyes being affected (seriously affected) are slim. However, this exposure must be brief and re-exposure over a period of time can and inevitably will cause damage to your eyes if you do not seek protection from sunglasses.
Prolonged exposure can lead to sunburn of the cornea – this results in severe pain that can last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours after exposure. You can treat this affliction with eye ointments and painkillers and will be expected to make a full recovery within 24 to 72 hours…all from a little sunglasses-free time in the sunshine…
Long term effects
Now you have stepped into dangerous territory – a place where your eyes will scream and shout and curse that you did not read the warning signs and protect them with some stylish sunglasses.
The long term effects of sun exposure without the correct protection from sunglasses can be dire. Sustained UV exposure can lead to chronic eye diseases including:
- Macular Degeneration
Macular Degeneration is a serious degenerative disease that affects the central retina (the macular) that is responsible for central vision.
Whilst there is treatment available for this condition (this comprises of injections directly into the eye) the treatment cannot reverse damage that has already occurred.
Cataracts are serious eye afflictions that can be caused or made worse by prolonged exposure to UV rays.
The most visibly common symptom of Cataracts disease is the ‘cloudy eye coating’ it causes. This cloud leads to blurred vision and, if left untreated, blindness.
However, this can all be avoided by wearing UV protected sunglasses; it’s simple and will save you a lifetime of pain and regret.
Pterygium is a growth (a benign growth) of conjunctiva tissue on the cornea.
Pterygium grows very slowly over a period of months and even years and can, when big enough, grow over the pupil and cause an astigmatism ( a curvature of the cornea), resulting in permanent blurred vision.
A prominent cause of this condition is exposure to UV rays and thus it can be so easily avoided by wearing sunglasses.
- The big C: Cancer
Eye cancers: melanoma of the eye, skin cancers of the eyelid and squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva, can all be caused by exposure to UV rays – and can all be prevented by wearing a good reliable, fashionable pair of sunglasses!
What sunglasses should I wear and when?
Sunglasses should be worn at ALL times during the day - preferably sunglasses that contain full UV protection, from categories two through to four, as these will provide protection and prevent eye damage from the sun.
When out in the day, come rain or shine, winter or summer, sunglasses should be worn. The UV rays (90%) even hidden behind a layer of grey winter clouds, can penetrate and damage your eyes.
For the safest, most effective level of protection choose sunglasses with a UV index of three and above.
Close-fitting sunglasses with a wraparound style are the best choice for protection – what’s more, they look stylish and can work as a fashion statement as well as a protective aid.
Regarding children, they should be encouraged to wear sunglasses just the same as adults, as soon as they can manage. ‘Too young’ will not be relevant for long… there are many well-trusted designer brands that provide sunglasses for little ones.
Although the sun is ever-present, makes us feel happy, warm and alive, its rays are extremely harmful and should not be underestimated…ever.
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