July is UV Safety Month according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and brings about awareness of the importance of protecting one’s eyes from the sun’s detrimental beams. This is especially true for Southern Nevada where eye protection should always be a concern including for children.
Due to the invisibility of ultraviolet radiation, it is considered one of the greatest threats to your vision, making everyone, including children, susceptible.
Similar to skin, eyes never recover from UV exposure. Studies indicate that exposure to sunlight may increase the risk of developing age related macular degeneration and cataracts; both are the leading causes of vision loss among older adults.
UV exposure along with wind and dust can also cause pterygia, or benign growths, on the eye’s surface. A person’s chances of contracting these conditions greatly increase with exposure and Las Vegas is known for its heat and sun.
In addition to the damage caused by a lifetime of exposure to bright sun, you need to protect your eyes from every day’s acute damage, as excessive exposure to ultraviolet light can damage the cornea. Though July is designated as UV Safety Month, you should take precautions for your eyes year-round.
Eye safety tips include:
* Choose sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of UV and UV-B rays. (The darker the lens does not mean the less the UV exposure.) In some cases those fancy glasses that cost three times the amount of the Dollar Store variety provide a health benefit far greater than money can buy.
* Select sunglasses that wrap around your temples, so UV rays cannot enter from the sides.
* In addition to your sunglasses, wear a broad-rimmed hat to protect your eyes, particularly while you’re in the sun.
* Contacts with UV protection do not guard your eyes fully. Be sure to accompany your contacts with sunglasses.
* It’s especially important to wear sunglasses in the early afternoon and places with higher altitudes, where UV light is more intense.
Whether you’re a lifelong Southern Nevadan or a recent transplant, keep these vision tips in mind and you’ll not only be able to experience the beauty of our area, but see it too.
Mark Doubrava is the medical director of Eye Care for Nevada.