Most patients know it is important to protect their skin from the sun, but what about their eyes? Eye damage from the sun can affect surface tissues and internal structures such as the cornea and the lens. Short term eye damage from the sun can cause a temporary but painful burn to the cornea called photokeratitis. Long term eye damage may cause cataracts, pterygium, pinguecula, and cancer.
Children are especially vulnerable to sun damage to the eyes. Almost half of the time an adult spends outside during his/her lifetime is spent during childhood years. Children are more likely to suffer sun damage to the eyes because the lenses on their eyes are thinner, allowing more of the damaging rays to reach the retina at the back of the eye.
The good news is that patients can prevent eye damage from the sun with UV protection incorporated into eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses. Contact lenses can incorporate UV-blocking optical materials that can offer added protection because they can filter out UV rays that stray past hats and sunglasses. CooperVision offers contact lenses with a UV tint, but remember to use these handy sun protection tips for more complete UV protection:
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection
- Use sunscreen
- Wear a wide brimmed hat
- Stay out of the sun
- Make sure kids are protected too
If patients have questions about eye conditions related to sun damage, they should talk to an eyecare professional. Patients can locate an eyecare professional here .