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Wear UV-protected sunglasses, AOA
29
May '08
Ultraviolet(UV) protection is a concern for many Americans, particularly in the spring and summer months, but most people are thinking about their skin, not their eyes. The American Optometric Association (AOA) warns that prolonged exposure to the sun's UV rays and short wavelength light (violet and blue light) without proper protection may cause eye conditions that can lead to a variety of vision disorders.

According to the AOA's 2007 American Eye-Q survey, which identified Americans attitudes and behaviors regarding eye care and related issues, 40 percent of Americans do not think UV protection is an important factor to consider when purchasing sunglasses.

"Just as skin is 'burned' by UV radiation the eye can also suffer damage," said Gregory Good, OD, Ph.D., member of AOA's Commission on Ophthalmic Standards. "The lesson-especially for young people-is that eyes need protection, too. Protection can be achieved by simple, safe, and inexpensive methods such as wearing a brimmed hat and using eyewear that properly absorbs UV radiation."

Overexposure to UV rays has been linked to age-related cataracts, pterygium, photokeratitis and corneal degenerative changes, the AOA said. These conditions can cause blurred vision,irritation,redness,tearing,temporary vision loss and in some instances, blindness. And, while the correlation is still unclear, there appears to be a link between excessive summer sun exposure and retinal pigmentation.

The AOA cautions that the effects of sunlight exposure are cumulative; therefore, individuals whose work or recreational activities involve lengthy exposure to sunlight are at the greatest risk. UV radiation reflects off surfaces such as snow, water and white sand, so the risk is particularly high for people on beaches, boats or ski slopes. The risk for serious damage is greatest during the mid-day hours, generally from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and during summer months.


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