Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Here Comes the Sun!

Guess what everyone... it's almost SPRING! Which means then it's almost SUMMER!!! Hooray for warmer weather!!!

So the optimist optometrist took the winter off since it was so freaking cold out. Plus, she started a new job at a Lasik center, and plans on doing a Lasik blog post in the near future. So keep posted!
Today, since the weather will be (hopefully) warming up soon, I wanted to do a post about how sunlight can affect your eyes. Being from Florida, I must admit to loving the sun. Although I love the warmer weather, we should always remember how important it is to protect our eyes from the sun.

I wanted to go over a couple of ways the sun can affect the eyes, and then talk about some easy ways to protect our eyes from the sun. After all, you only get two eyes (unless you're a fly or an alien or something!)

1. Cataracts: (Dear patients - It is NOT funny to me anymore when you call them Cadillacs. Actually, it was never funny. Please don't be that guy.) Rays from the sun (UVA and UVB rays) have been shown to cause cataracts in patients. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. The lens is partially responsible for giving you clear vision, so a cataract can make your vision very cloudy. Protecting your eyes from UV light can help to prevent or delay cataract formation. Please don't be like Magda... she probably has cataracts.

2. Corneal or Retinal Burns: Wait... you mean, you can get an eye sunburn? Yep! That doesn't sound very fun, does it? If your cornea has a burn from the sun, it's called photokeratitis. This happens sometimes on ski slopes or from tanning beds. People with corneal burns usually have some pain, redness, and tearing. Not a fun thing to have. Retinal burns, on the other hand, (called photoretinitis) are usually not as painful, but can leave permanent vision defets. So please don't look directly at the sun and keep those retinas healthy.
3. Pinguecula and Pterygium: Those sure are funny names, huh? Both of these things that afftect the conjunctiva are associated with sun exposure. They are usually found on the white part of your eye. They can cause dryness and irritation. Sometimes if you have a large pterygium, it can affect your vision. Pterygiums can be surgically removed, but sometimes they grow back after surgery.
Geez, Doc, I don't want any of those things. What can I do?
We all know (I hope) how important it is to protect our skin from the sun. Hopefully we also remember how important it is to protect our eyes! Sunglasses not only look cool, but they can also cut out the harmful rays from the sun that can damage our eyes. So, WEAR SUNGLASSES! You will be glad you did.
Look for sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection. Optical centers will usually have a cool machine called a spectrometer that can measure the amount of UV protection a lens offers. If you like to fish or engage in water sports, you should also consider getting polarized sunglasses to cut down on glare. For contact lens wearers, although contacts protect against UV rays, you should still wear sunglasses to protect the parts of the eye that are not covered by the contact lenses.

Remember, kids need sunglasses too! Don't forget about them.

Ready for the moral of the story? The sun is great for many reasons. It brings us warmth, it helps to synthesize Vitamin D, and it cheers some people (me) up! But everything in moderation, right? When you are out in the sun, please protect your eyes from the sun. You will be glad you did.

Now for the optimist part:

Remember, despite the rainy days, there will always be a sunny one coming up soon. We should try to make every day the best day it can possibly be; today is your only chance to live this particular day! So make it a great one and stay safe.

Happy Spring to everyone!!!