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Harmful Effects of, and Protecting Yourself Against, UV Radiation

Summer is here, and when it comes to protecting yourself and your loved ones against harmful Ultra-Violet (UV) radiation from the sun and other sources, you can never be too careful! Dr. Dan Bristol of Bristol Family Eyecare in Austin, Texas has compiled some important information about the threat posed by UV overexposure and how you and your loved ones can protect yourselves:

The Danger of UV radiation

Many people do not realize that UV radiation can be dangerous for your eyes as much as your skin. Here are some of the leading dangers from UV overexposure:

Too much UV radiation can give your eyes a kind of "sunburn of the eye," called photokeratitis, which can cause a gritty, “something-in-my eye” feeling, eye pain, and extreme sensitivity to bright light.
An overexposure of the eyes to UV radiation can also cause an elevated, wedged-shaped growth in the white part of your eye, called a pterygium, which may invade the cornea and harm you vision. The pterygium contains blood vessels that can cause scarring and permanent disfigurement of the eye, and may cause a gritty feeling as though there is something in your eye. In severe cases, the pterygium must be removed surgically.
The more your eyes are exposed to UV rays over time, the greater your chances become of developing serious problems eyes, such as age related macular degeneration, later in life. This eye threatening disease causes deterioration of the small area of your retina that is involved with central and detail vision, called the macula, making detail work such as threading a needle or activities such as reading small print or street signs, increasingly difficult or even impossible.

Proper Protection

There are many steps that you can take to defend your eyes against harmful UV radiation: 

burberry2The American Optometric Association suggests that you wear good sunglasses with gray lenses, that block 99-100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays and 75-90 percent visible light. These sunglasses should be easily available to you in many locations.
Wear a hat or cap with a wide brim any time you will be outdoors for a long time.
Wrap around sunglasses and contact lenses with UV protection help catch UV radiation that may get around the edges of traditional sunglasses.
If you've had surgery for cataracts or are taking medicine that will make your eyes more sensitive to light, you should be sure to take these same steps every time you go outside, no matter how long or short your time outside will be.

Alternate Sources of UV Radiation

You should also keep in mind that there are certain situations in which sunglasses alone are not enough to protect your eyes. Although, UV radiation comes mostly from the sun, it can also come from many other places, like welding machines and tanning beds. These alternate sources of UV light require specialized eyewear to prevent extremely harmful side effects similar to looking directly into the sun.

For more information, speak with Dr. Bristol today.


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