UV Awareness Month!

May is UV Awareness Month, and we’ve all heard the warnings, “Protect your eyes when your outside!” Yah yah, we get it. Sunglasses, a ball cap, maybe some sunscreen around the eyes. In Fact, we’ve spent a great deal of time warning against UV exposure, here on the blog. What’s the big deal anyway? The truth is, some of us are more susceptible to UV damage than others, and the reasons why might surprise you. The vision experts over at Friends for Sight point out the obvious,“…sunscreen is essential to protect your skin, but a good pair of sunglasses is critical to help protect your eyes.” But the vision research group goes on to point out some details that many of us may not be aware of.

Men and women are more likely to fall victim to UV eye damage if they:

  • Work long hours outdoors particularly between 10:00 a.m. – 3 p.m. during summer months
  • Have family history of eye cancer
  • Have light-colored eyes
  • Spend time at the beach without sunglasses
  • Don’t wear sunglasses and hats outside, even on cloudy days
  • Are around water, sand, snow, and ice without eye protection

The Friends for Sight post goes on to list the possible side-effects of too much UV exposure on the eyes:

  • Skin cancer around eyelids (UV-A and UV-B radiation)
  • Cataracts (cloudy lens in your eye – a leading cause of blindness)
  • Photokeratitis (corneal sunburn that can result in temporary vision loss)
  • Pterygium (abnormal pink tissue on the white of the eye)
  • Age Related Macular Degeneration [AMD] (results in gradual vision loss over time)

And while the necessary precautions may be obvious (sunglasses, a brimmed hat, a regular eye exam), there is one preventative measure that you are most likely NOT aware of:

Research has shown that smoking can cause UV radiation damage to progress quicker than with non-smokers! So if lung cancer, yellow skin and teeth, and weight issues weren’t enough, now you can add UV related cancers to the long list of reasons to quit smoking!

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