As the summer season comes into full swing, residents across California are looking to hit the beach and ride the waves or set out into the great outdoors. Sunshine can prove very beneficial for your body, but excess amounts can result in uncomfortable conditions and serious long-term concerns. Many people understand the risks of skin cancer from heavy exposure to the sun, but far less are aware as to how this same process can affect the eyes. We’re proud to be your local eye doctor in Fresno, delivering comprehensive eye therapy and boutique services to help our clients see clearly and live fully. We’re dedicated to providing the best outcome for your visual needs, delivering compassionate care and affordable options every step of the way. We are now offering Dry Eye services as well.
One problem our optometrists see frequently in Fresno stems from improper eye protection. Today, we’ll highlight a few dangers of the sun for your optimal health as well our expert recommendations. If you’re worried about your eye health this summer, be sure to contact our office for assistance!
To start, our star produces three types of light — infrared, ultraviolet, and visible. Infrared is classified as electromagnetic radiation, similar to radio waves and the technology used in microwaves. Unlike radio waves, infrared waves sit between the visible (light) and electromagnetic spectrum to produce what we know as heat. The chances of you sustaining an eye injury from a concentrated heat source are rare, so we’ll focus on the other two sources in this post.
Ultraviolet rays are high-energy waves that are invisible, creating a serious health concern with heavy exposure to the sun. More and more focus has been placed on blocking these rays from causing damage.
Visible rays are visible on the spectrum, also referred to as light. This high-energy radiation is essential for illuminating the world around us, and much of its rays are reflected and safely blocked from doing damage to the body.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be very damaging to your eyes, but the intensity of your exposure may be made far worse from reflected rays from surfaces such as snow, sand, or even sea foam. It may help to remember that the sun’s rays are over 90 million miles away while the snow you’re shoveling is only a few feet away. During the summertime, reflective surfaces can add to the damage wrought by direct exposure to the sun. Be aware of your surroundings when you hit the outdoors this summer to be prepared for any unexpected reflections!
Unfortunately, overexposure of the sun to your corneas will result in damage very similar to sunburns on the skin. This is the result of too much radiation stemming from high-energy UV rays that have bombarded both the epidermis and the cornea. After heavy exposure, the cells within your cornea will begin to blister and crack. It can help to remember that this process is the same that happens to the skin. When your eyes get sunburned, however, the problems can be much different.
Much like a sunburn on the body, your eyes will likely feel normal during the day. Once nighttime sets in and inflammation begins, the discomfort can quickly become alarming. Patients normally complain of a gritty sensation, as you can imagine a burn on the eye would feel like. Known as photokeratitis, this problem can also lead to blurred vision until the corneas heal, normally within a couple of days. As your trusted local optometrist, we’re here to tell you that temporary or not, photokeratitis is serious and the long-term effects can be very extensive.
High-energy visible radiation is a type of visible light that is now garnering more and more concern for specialists across the globe. This specific band of light holds less energy and has a longer wavelength than UV rays, leading medical experts to believe that UV radiation was the main point of concern. Recent evidence has pointed to HEV radiation as a cause behind major retinal concerns, as the light penetrates deeply into the eye. No matter the summation of this and future evidence, it’s important to ensure that you are protecting your eyes from all types of radiation!
Damage to the eyes through either type of radiation over the years can lead to serious visual concerns. Macular degeneration is the term used for eye disease that causes age-related vision loss. Patients typically notice a loss of focus in their center of vision. You will likely notice small changes in details such as distinguishing fine details both near and far away. This severe vision loss is common in patients of 60 and those who did not take proper precautions with their eye health.
Utilizing the UV Index
Our Fresno eye clinic recommends proper protection at all times out in the sunshine, and your level of coverage will depend on the rated risk for UV exposure. The scale ranges between 1 and 11+, with low UV days (say 2 or 3) requiring minimal sunscreen and sunglasses while heavier days (common in Fresno) and hotter parts of the day will require heavy sunblock use and frequent reapplying. A hat, sunglasses, and other measures will also be recommended for optimal safety.
The sun is no joke when it comes to the potential dangers present to your eyes. While we aren’t trying to frighten people, our Fresno optometrists do want to stress the value that proper eye protection provides your long-term quality of life. If you are worried about the sun damage your vision or you’ve recently had a sunshine overload swimming at the beach or traversing Mount Whitney, it can help to reach out to a local eye doctor for assistance. Feel free to contact us to see how our staff can help you!