Stephen Olwell Opticians - Helping you look after your eyes in the summer
Summer took a while to get here, with many false starts, heatwaves sandwiched between rain clouds, and all of the things we’ve come to expect in Ireland.
It finally did though, and as always we are ill prepared.
For our faces, arms and legs, we will have left over sun cream from last year and hastily bought new creams to protect and save our skin from ageing and from disease.
But what about our eyes? Our eyes can be damaged by UV rays just the same as our skin.
Strong sunlight and UV affects the eye in many ways, causing cataracts and macular degeneration, along with non-cancerous growths on the front surface of the eye like pinguecula and pterygium.
Our eyelids have the thinnest skin in the entire body.
UV damage can cause wrinkles, dryness and pigmentation, and 5 to 10% of all skin cancers occur around the eyes.
All in all, a long list of ailments caused by the sun we crave so much.
So, how can we be prepared?
Avoiding the sun while it’s at it’s peak can be difficult in a country which rarely sees it, but on very hot days or when abroad, we should stay indoors between 11am and 3pm.
Wearing a wide brimmed hat is the next line of defence, especially during these hours, but most important are your sunglasses.
Sunglasses are the strongest defence for your eyes, but what type of sunglasses are best?
When choosing, you should always look for a UV rating of UV400. Sunglasses that do not provide this level of UV protection to the eye actually cause damage by allowing the pupil to dilate and letting in more harmful light.
An anti-reflective treatment on the back surface of the lens also stops UV light being reflected into the eye.
Also a larger frame, or possibly a wrap frame protects the eyelids and surrounding tissues from the potential for skin damage.
While polarised lenses don’t provide additional protection from UV, they do protect from glare, by reducing scattered light which can cause fatigue and discomfort.
As an optometrist I see daily the results of UV damage to the eyes and surrounding skin. I find myself wearing sunglasses all year round, to provide protection from avoidable damage. I think sun protection is a necessity, not an option.
Ask your local optometrist about what sunglasses are best for you.
10 Grafton Court
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