Why is it important to protect your eyes from the sun?

Ophthalmologist, Ph.D. and Lyudmila Panyushkina, a researcher at the Research Institute of Eye Diseases, explains what consequences can be encountered if you do not wear sunglasses (it turns out, right up to cancer of the eyelid conjunctiva). It also tells you when it’s better not to wear glasses at all.

Why is it important to protect your eyes from the sun?

Lyudmila Panyushkina

- The sun is a natural source of ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

It comes in three forms:

  • UV-C rays are the shortest and potentially the most dangerous. Fortunately, they do not reach the Earth’s surface, but are trapped in the ozone layer of the atmosphere;
  • UV-B rays are partially filtered by the ozone layer. Thanks to them, a tan appears on the skin. In high doses, UV-B rays cause sunburn, pigmentation, and wrinkles. They have a strong damaging effect and are actively absorbed by the anterior segment of the eye (cornea and lens);
  • UV-A rays have the lowest energy.

    They are able to penetrate deep inside the eye and affect the retina.

Why is it important to protect your eyes from the sun?

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The development of the following eye diseases is associated with excessive exposure to UV radiation:

  • macular degeneration is a pathology of the central zone of the retina, manifested by a decrease in visual acuity;
  • cataract - clouding of the lens;
  • pterygium - a change in the conjunctiva in the form of a pterygoid hymen, gradually growing on the cornea;
  • pingvekula - a benign neoplasm on the conjunctiva yellowish or whitish;
  • oncology - cancer of the conjunctiva of the eyelids, uveal melanoma.

If you think that UV radiation can only lead to long-term consequences, you are mistaken. People resting in the mountains or at sea without sunglasses can almost immediately feel discomfort in their eyes.

Usually, after 6-12 hours after staying in the bright sun, severe lacrimation appears, photophobia, complaints of redness of the eyes and a feeling that there is a foreign object in the eyes. These are signs of photokeratitis - a burn of the cornea. It is also called "snow blindness" - this condition leads to a decrease in vision, which can last up to 24-48 hours. If these symptoms occur, you should immediately consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Why is it important to protect your eyes from the sun?

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Both adults and children - regardless of skin pigmentation - are highly likely to damage their eyes due to UV radiation. However, there are people who are at increased risk of developing UV-related diseases:

  • patients after cataract removal;
  • patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD);
  • people with a light color of the iris (blue and green);
  • people taking photosensitizing (that is, increasing sensitivity to light) drugs;
  • people whose professions and hobbies are associated with long-term stay in the air (tourists, athletes), as well as in contact with artificial sources of UV radiation (welders , medical technologists, printing workers, solarium enthusiasts);
  • children are especially exposed to the harmful effects of UV radiation - they spend a lot of time in the open sun. In addition, the lenses of children are transparent and cannot protect the retina from UV rays.

Why is it important to protect your eyes from the sun?

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It is important to remember: the damage from UV radiation is cumulative, it accumulates throughout life.

It is believed that 80% of the lifetime dose of UV radiation we receive is up to 18 years old. UV radiation is not blocked by fog or clouds. The highest amount of UV radiation you risk getting in the middle of the day, at high altitudes and when light is reflected from water or snow.

The most important criterion for choosing glasses is the reliability of the UV filter . Sunglasses should block 100% of harmful radiation.

Give preference to lenses marked UV 400 and remember: the color intensity of the lenses does not affect this parameter.

The lens material can be any: glass, plastic, polycarbonate, new generation polyurethane ( NXT ), acrylic. The main thing is that the lens should have high optical properties and not distort color perception.

Sunglasses vary in light transmission. There are five categories of filters.

They are indicated by a number from 0 to 4 (usually it is indicated on the inner surface of the lens next to the CE symbol). A filter marked "0" transmits from 80 to 100% of the light, with a "4" - from 3 to 8%. In a city, for example, for driving a car, the first or second category of filter is enough for a trip to the sea or to the mountains - the third or fourth.

Why is it important to protect your eyes from the sun?

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The color of the lenses depends on your preferences and lifestyle.

The most comfortable for the eyes are gray, brown or green lenses. The choice of additional coverage depends on the purpose of using sunglasses. Polarized glasses allow you to feel comfortable even in the brightest light, reliably block sun glare. Such glasses are recommended for driving a car, playing sports in the mountains and beach holidays. The multifunctional coating (hardening, hydrophobic, anti-reflective) significantly prolongs the life of glasses, facilitates the care of them and protects them from scratches.

There are special photochromic lenses. They change their color depending on the external lighting: in the room they are transparent or with a little tint, they darken on the street. Please note: drivers should choose special photochromic lenses - automotive glass blocks most of the UV radiation, which changes the color of the lenses. If necessary, you can order diopter glasses with blackout and UV protection.

Why is it important to protect your eyes from the sun?

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Sunglasses should only be purchased at trusted optical stores and salons. If you doubt the availability or quality of the UV filter, contact the optician - there, on a special device (spectrophotometer), the glasses will check the degree of protection against UV radiation.

Remember: it is better to be completely without glasses than in dark glasses without proper UV protection. In bright sunshine, our pupils reflexively decrease in diameter, limiting the harmful effects of UV radiation on the lens and retina. If you are wearing dark glasses without a UV filter, the pupil will remain wide - so even more harmful radiation will penetrate the eye.

If you doubt the quality of the sunglasses, it is better to refrain from buying.

Enjoy the sun and take care of your eyes!

You can read more useful information about eye health on Lyudmila's Instagram.

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