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How to Properly Help Protect Your Eyes From UV Exposure

By Susan Resnick, OD, FAAO, Drs. Farkas, Kassalow, Resnick & Associates, New York

Throughout my career, I’ve seen thousands (maybe even tens of thousands!) of patients in my practice, and one of the most common items that links everyone together is the lack of understanding of the dangers that UV rays pose to the health of our eyes. I advocate for full body protection – broad spectrum sunscreen and UPF clothing for the skin, and comprehensive protection for the eyes.

But first, let me explain why UV exposure can potentially harm the health of your eyes. A number of studies have shown that the effects of UV radiation to the eyes are mostly cumulative, and UV exposure may increase the chance of developing eye problems later in life. Once you, or your eye doctor, notices damage, it’s often too late to reverse it.

It’s also important to know that if it is daytime; your eyes are being exposed to UV rays. A cloudy day is no excuse for not protecting your eyes – it’s estimated that up to 80% of UV rays can pass through thin clouds1. Appropriate protection is also vital in all four seasons – while direct sunlight itself can be harmful, reflected UV rays can increase your UV exposure. For example, fresh snow reflects as much as 80% of UV rays2 and those rays can bounce up directly into the eyes.

So what should you do each day to help protect your eyes from the sun? Start with a wide-brimmed hat, like a sun hat or a baseball cap. The hat helps to block the sun from above, especially when it is highest in the sky (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.).

Second, high-quality, UV blocking sunglasses are essential. Not all sunglasses are equal, and UV blocking doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. Pay attention to labels, and look for 100% UVA/UVB blocking. Sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UV are OK too – you want to limit UV transmission to no more than 1 percent UVB and 1 percent UVA rays. Make sure to look for frames that wraparound the face, and cover the eyes from the eyebrow to the upper cheek.

For those who require vision correction, UV blocking contact lenses+* can offer an additional measure of UV protection. Not all contact lenses offer UV protection, and of those that do, not all provide similar absorption levels. ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses is the only major brand which blocks approximately 97% of UVB and 81% of UVA rays as standard across the entire range of its products+*. Although UV-blocking contact lenses are beneficial in helping to protect against harmful UV rays, clinical studies have not been done to show they reduce the risk of any specific eye disease or condition. That’s why it is important to wear them as part of a comprehensive sun protection plan along your wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Talk to your eye doctor about UV protection, and for additional information, check out “The Sun & Your Eyes: What You Need to Know” at www.acuvue.com/sunandyoureyes.

1 Sunburn: Causes, Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sunburn/basics/causes/con-20031065

2 Global solar UV Index, World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/who271/en/print.html

 

Susan Resnick, OD, FAAO, is a partner at Drs. Farkas, Kassalow, Resnick & Associates. She authors, lectures and consults in the areas of specialty contact lenses and emerging vision and eyecare technologies. In addition to her contact lens specialty, Dr. Resnick maintains a strong interest and participation in primary optometric care including binocular vision assessment and pediatric examinations. Dr. Resnick is an authoritative source for eye health and has been quoted in Women’s Health, FoxNews.com, Allure.com and Glamour.com, among others and serves as an advisor to the industry as a clinical investigator in the contact lens and pharmaceutical fields. Dr. Resnick is a member of the America Academy of Optometry and the Nassau County Optometric Society.  Dr. Resnick is a paid consultant for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., which provided support for this content.

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Wear Sun Protection What's Hot

Cooper knows, you can sunburn your eyes

Last week, Journalist and TV Personality Anderson Cooper shared that he went blind for 36 hours after suffering eye sunburn. Cooper was in Portugal where he spent ample time out on the water reporting for CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Cooper was not wearing sunglasses.

“I wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like my eyes are on fire, my eyeballs and I think, ‘Oh, maybe I have sand in my eyes or something,” Anderson said.  “I douse my eyes with water. Anyway, it turns out I have sunburned my eyeballs and I go blind. I went blind for 36 hours.” Other symptoms of eye sunburn include blurred vision, irritation, pain, redness, tearing and (like Cooper) temporary vision loss called photokeratitis.

Just like our skin, our eyes are susceptible to damage from the sun. Exposure to intense sunlight for even a short period of time can essentially cause your eyes to develop sunburn. Both short and long term exposure to UV rays could create vision problems and eye damage, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation.

It’s extremely important to not only protect your skin from sunburn but your eyes as well. We’ve compiled some simple tips to keep your eyes protected.

1. Always wear protective eyewear outdoors

The sun’s ultra violet rays reach the earth’s surface even on cloudy days. Also, bright reflected sunlight from sidewalks, sand, snow, water and other surfaces can cause UV damage just as easily as direct sunlight.

 2. Look for UV 400 sunglasses

Look for lenses that blocks 100% of UVA and UVB rays (label could also say blocks 100% of harmful UV rays or UV 400 protection).

 3. Size matters

Bigger frames mean bigger coverage. Look for wide temples so sunlight doesn’t seep in the sides of the sunglasses too.

Your eyes can sunburn too, so take care to be SunAWARE. We hope your eyes are feeling better Cooper! – Coolibar, Sun Protection You Wear

We, at Coolibar, Sun Protection You Wear, wanted to ensure Mr. Cooper had gear to protect the rest of his body from the sun’s harmful UV rays, so we sent him a small care package with the items above!

Main photo credit: Instagram

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SunAWARE Wear Sun Protection

Shield Your Eyes! 4 Simple Sun Protection Tips

Just like our skin, our eyes are susceptible to damage from the sun. Exposure to intense sunlight for even a short period of time can essentially cause your eyes to develop a “sun burn”. Both short and long term exposure to UV rays could create vision problems and eye damage, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation. In light of this, we’ve compiled some simple tips to keep you and your family’s eyes protected.

 

1.     Always wear protective eyewear

Clear skies or cloudy days, the sun’s ultra violet rays still reach the earth’s surface. Bright reflected sunlight from sidewalks, sand, snow and other surfaces can cause UV damage just as easily as direct sunlight. Keeping your sunglasses with you for all sunny and semi-sunny occasions will keep you covered!

 2.       Look for quality sunglasses

Look for lenses that blocks 100% of both UVA and UVB rays (label could also say blocks 100% of harmful UV rays or UV 400 protection). Polarized polycarbonate lenses in particular are usually your best bet for full coverage. Keep in mind that price doesn’t always equate to quality. You can find many stylish yet protective sunglasses at reasonable prices.

 3.       Examine your sunglasses

Before you make a commitment to a pair of eyewear, ensure there is no damage to the lenses. Also, double check that the label clearly states 100% UV protection.  Another thing to consider is that bigger frames mean bigger coverage. Look for wide temples so sunlight doesn’t seep in through the sides of the sunglasses. Go for those Hollywood shades!

 4.       Protect future generations

Detrimental forms of UV-related eye diseases typically stem from accumulated damage, which reinforces the importance of starting good eye protection habits at an early age. Educate your kids about the importance of protecting their eyes. When sending them outside, make sure they wear a pair of broad-spectrum UV sunglasses with 100% protection from harmful UV rays. The younger they develop healthy sun protection habits, the less resistance you’ll get as a parent/guardian. For young children, look for a pair of sunglasses that wrap closely around little heads to minimize unfiltered light and have straps to prevent them from falling off.

Keeping Kids Protected from the Sun!

Don’t forget your Sunglasses and a Wide Brimmed Hat!  By following a few simple steps to protect your eyes, not only will you look great in your shades you’ll help avoid eye problems in the future.

Be SunAWARE and be Safe!

Shop Coolibar Now for Optical Quality Sunglasses with Polycarbonate Lenses that provide 100% UV 400 Protection.

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