Why are sunglasses so great?
- Prevent the pesky aftermath of squinting; crow’s-feet
- Assist in making dramatic red-carpet entries
- Help you remain incognito while checking out the cutie walking by
- Are fashion-friendly
- And, they’re like sunscreen for the eyes — minus the warning label
Protect your eyes from getting sunburned– without having to flush with water upon contact with eyes.
YES, you read that correctly. Your eyes can be sunburned from too much sun exposure. One of EYE-Q’s primary eye care specialists, Dr. Daniel Lopez, O.D. spoke to us about the causes, symptoms and treatments of sun damage to the eyes.
Specializing in eye exams, contact lenses as well as diagnosis and treatment of ocular diseases, Dr. Lopez’s tip this summer is to remember the only way to really protect the eyes outdoors is by regularly wearing sunglasses. Hats are debatably an alternative form of eye protection, as they shade the face from the sun. However, Dr. Lopez advised that there are still reflections off water, sidewalks, cars, phone screens, etc., where sunglasses offer more protection.
Dry and uncomfortable with a hue of redness?
If you’re noticing these symptoms waking up after a day out in the sun, these could be the first signs of sun damage. Redness, burning, excessive tearing, changes of color (specifically in the white of the eye) are all possible symptoms. Yellowish deposits on the white of the eye can be an indicator of long-term sun damage. Internally there can be changes, such as cataracts, that only practitioners can diagnose. UV damage has also been implicated in diseases such as macular degeneration.
“What it really means is that there has been more exposure to UV light. Just like your skin is sensitive and tender for a few days after a burn, the eyes can experience that as well. In which case, we’ll prescribe some medication in the form of eye drops. However, they are only available via prescription, so it’s important to come in for an eye exam or office visit if you think you may have been burned.”
Is the sun damage reversible?
The redness and the discomfort experienced in minor stages are reversible. However, according to Dr. Lopez, the yellowish deposit is irreversible and can actually worsen throughout a lifetime, leading to scarring or even cancer. Initially the deposit is treated with artificial tears and sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses are also readily available. With a doctor’s supervision, the deposit is monitored to prevent further progression.
Cataracts are the most common long-term side effect of sun damage seen in the office — “long-term” meaning decades of damage done by not wearing sunglasses. Typically, cataracts caused by sun damage will appear in patients between the ages of 40 and 50, where the normal age of development is usually in the 70s to 80s.
EYE-Q Tips With Dr. Lopez
With a final word of advice, Dr. Lopez offers these EYE-Q Tips to stay safe from sun damage this summer.