With Summer’s official kickoff almost here, us Floridians are READY to lather ourselves in sunscreen and cover our eyes in some cool sunglasses. Most people wear sunscreen because they don’t want to get a sunburn. They wear sunglasses because they are too sensitive to the sunlight and it may be hard to see outside without them. While these reasons are all valid, we should also wear sunscreen and sunglasses with the intention of preventing the conditions that develop over time with prolonged exposure to UV rays. Dr. Jenilee Rebarber of SightHealth Primary Eyecare is here to give us all the information we need to ensure our eyes are protected.
What Can Happen To Our Eyes with UV Exposure?
When it comes to our eyes, we don’t tolerate the sunlight at the moment, but the real damage in our eyes is observed much later. Our eyes won’t get a sunburn from being outside but, gazing directly at the sun may damage the retina. Studies on long-term exposure to UV rays has associations to the development of eye conditions like cataracts. There are also other harmful growths that can happen in the eye called, pinguecula and pterygium. Skin Cancer or Melanomas are very common in Florida, and the Choroid, the inner layer of our eyes, is another area where they can arise. Having the knowledge to protect yourself BEFORE this happens is a first step in protecting your eyes.
Picking the RIGHT Shades
Most adults wear sunglasses, but the question left to answer is “are you wearing the appropriate ones?” When buying sunglasses, it is important to make sure that the lenses offer 100% UV protection. Contact lens wearers should NOT assume that they have protection. While contact lenses do offer UV protection, they do not cover the entire eyes. Sunglasses are still THE BEST way to protect the whole eye and the eyelids.
Got Glasses? You’ve Got Options!
For those who wear glasses, they have the option of making their prescription in Transition lenses. Transition lenses not only offer UV protection but, they darken according to the sunlight intensity that they receive. Some other options for prescription wearers are to have a pair of sunglasses made with your eyeglass prescription in polarized lenses. Polarized lenses offer the advantage of reducing glare and enhancing contrast. Most eye doctors have sunglasses in the store that make great choices to fit into prescription lenses.
What About Your Kids?
Most importantly, we cannot forget about protecting our kids. You may have even seen the cute, tiny sunglasses in store and didn’t buy them because you didn’t think it mattered. Unfortunately, less than 30% of parents usually protect their children’s eyes with sunglasses. Our kids need sunglasses too! Children tend to receive 3 times more UV exposure than adults do during the year. Eye protection begins from the first moments we have sun exposure. The earlier we start, the better. Lifetime exposure to UV rays is linked to a higher risk for developing associated ocular conditions and, children’s eyes are more susceptible to the damage. Having your child wear sunglasses at an early age, gets them use to wearing them and possibly avoiding the “battle” of them taking them on and off.
There are great eyewear options for kids to get protection. Miraflex offers rubber wrap around glasses that come in a variety of sizes and colors. They make a perfect baby or child-proof choice for the youngest ones. These are also available to have regular dark sunglasses with UV protection. Other brands that offer protection for kids are Babiators Sunglasses. These have become quite popular in recent years. (Plus they’re adorable!) Vision is precious, just like them; let’s protect your family’s eyes.
So many great options for adults and our children when it comes to eye health! Having your yearly eye exams can help to monitor continued eye health as well. Tell us below how many pairs of sunglasses you own to enter to win a FREE pair of L.A.M.B. sunglasses ($200 Value) from Dr. Rebarber at SightHealth Primary Eyecare.
About the Author
Dr. Jenilee Rebarber has been practicing optometry since 2009. She obtained her Doctor of Optometry degree from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico—her native island. She was awarded with Clinical Excellence in Contact Lenses and Pediatrics & Vision Therapy and was an active member of Voluntary Optometric Service for Humanity (VOSH), where she participated of mission trips to provide eye care to underserved communities in the Dominican Republic. Read more here.
You can contact her at (904) 217-7099 or at https://www.sighthealtheye.com/