Protect Your Peepers!
Just as we want to protect our skin from sun damage, let’s remember to keep our eyes safe from harmful UV rays too! Despite only comprising a small fraction of our body's surface, our vision has a BIG impact on all that we do and experience in life! This article builds on our previous discussions on sun safety. This will help prepare you for a summer full of all that sunshine glory, without having to suffer the short and long term consequences of eye disease.
We often think of sunglasses as a way to relieve our discomfort from squinting on those bright days. They’re also pretty fun accessories as there are lots of styles to choose from! These points alone make sunglasses pretty awesome, but wait -
Sunglasses help prevent many eye diseases such as:
Eyelid cancer - it actually happens! The lower eyelids are especially affected since they are more exposed. Cancers that start here can also spread, causing damage to the eye itself, and facial disfigurement. Our eyelids are ultra thin layers of skin which protect our eyes, so it's extra important to protect these delicate little guys too! Sunscreen and sunglasses not only prevent cancer, but also photoaging that can cause wrinkles which accelerate the appearance of aging.
Photokeratitis can be extremely painful. Just think of having a sunburn directly on your eye! This is often prevalent in surfers, skiers and snowboarders. The reflective surfaces of water and snow mean they get hit by the sun’s rays twice!
Cataracts are when our lenses become clouded, and is the leading cause for worldwide blindness. Cataracts are directly linked with repeated UVB exposure.
Intraocular melanomas originates in the iris and pupillary layer of the eye. Blue coloured irises are more easily damaged by UV rays as they have less melanin which is why they are less pigmented than darker coloured irises. Interesting fact: melanin is our natural SPF (skin protection factor)!
Macular degeneration, a condition affecting the posterior layer of our eyes impairs our ability to see colour and fine detail and has been attributed to long-term UVA damage.
Luckily, most of these conditions caught early can be managed and treated. However, in keeping with our naturopathic philosophies, why not prevent these from happening in the first place?
So how can we preserve our windows to the world?
SUNGLASSES (and a big brimmed hat for an added bonus!)
When shopping, keep these in mind:
Look for 100% UV protection.
Polarized doesn’t mean UV protection, it just reduces the glare from reflective surfaces.
Darker lenses don’t necessarily mean more protection.The colour doesn’t matter, though different colours can increase contrast, which is helpful for staying sharp when playing outside.
The bigger the better – oversized or wrap-around works best at blocking rays that can sneak around unprotected spaces!
Remember that the sun’s UV rays can still easily pass through clouds or haze. Also, don’t look directly at the sun or at an eclipse – that’s just painful.
Protect your vision, enjoy yo-self amidst the glorious sunshine - all while looking like one cool kid.