Most people think that visits to their eye doctor are only needed for eye tests, or if you are experiencing problems with your eyes or vision. However, these are far from the only services they provide. Your eye doctor is also committed to preventative care too and can provide you with valuable advice about the best way to protect your eyes from some of the dangers that occur in everyday life. Two of the best examples of these are UV and blue light.
Most people are aware that UV light is dangerous for our eyes. Produced by the sun, UV light is a form of high energy radiation that can penetrate the atmosphere and reach us down on the ground. UVA and UVB are slightly different, but both can cause changes within the cells of our body. Exposure to the sun may give us a tan, but if we don’t protect our skin, it can burn. There are similar consequences for our eyes, as well as some much more serious penalties.
Some of the effects that prolonged or persistent exposure to UV light can have on our eyes include:
Increased risk of developing eye conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
Growths can develop on the conjunctiva, including pinguecula and pterygium.
The cornea can become inflamed and painful.
Patients can develop sunburn of the cornea, called keratitis or photokeratitis.
Cancer of the iris.
Skin cancer affecting the skin around the eyes, including the eyelids, which can metastasize and spread to other parts of the body.
One of the biggest misconceptions about UV light is that people are only at risk of UV damage on days when the sun is shining brightly. However, this isn’t the case. While a bright, sunny day with minimal cloud cover does increase your exposure, UV light is present all year round, even when it is very overcast. For this reason, it’s important to take steps to protect your eyes whatever the weather.
There’s no unusual solution for protecting our eyes from UV damage. The most effective method is simply to wear high-quality sunglasses that have been tested and are proven to block out 100% of UV light. The way that you can tell is that any that meet this standard or one close to it should have a sticker or label showing the level of protection that they offer. Fashion brands are generally less likely to offer as much protection as sunglasses you purchase via your eye doctor’s office.
The style of sunglasses that you choose will also affect how well they can protect your eyes too. Selecting styles with larger lenses, wide frames and that fit close to your face will minimize UV light that can get in around the sides of your lenses, providing better protection than smaller, narrower lenses and frames.
Many people are surprised to learn that blue light is also emitted by the sun. In fact, it is a visible blue light that causes the sky to look blue on sunny days. Unlike UV light, some natural blue light is actually good for us. The energy that penetrates our body from solar blue light exposure helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, improve our memory and other cognitive skills, and feel happier and less stressed.
Unfortunately, excessive amounts of blue light can have opposite effects. In most instances, overexposure is a result of spending lots of time in environments lit by UV lighting, or excessive/prolonged use of digital devices, such as computers and smartphones. If you spend most of your time outside, you could suffer the effects of blue light overexposure too.
If you are exposed to too much blue light on a regular basis, you could start to suffer from a range of issues, including:
Digital eye strain: a condition that also occurs from too much digital device use.
Increased risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
The effects of blue light overexposure are similar to symptoms of other eye conditions, so it is important to speak to your eye doctor to confirm their cause.
Fortunately, you don’t have to live with the effects of too much blue light in your life. There are now several solutions that will control the amount of blue light that you are exposed to. The two most popular are blue light filters and blue light lenses. Filters are physical products that are placed over the screen of your digital device to stop too much blue light from escaping, cutting the supply down at the source. Meanwhile, blue light lenses are special lenses that are treated so that they filter out blue light before it reaches your eyes. The treatment can be incorporated into clear or prescription lenses.
If you would like more information about UV and blue light protection for your eyes, get in touch with our friendly and experienced eyecare team today.