Louisville, KY (March 1, 2011) – By this time of year, many adults are eager to lie on the beach and read a book while the kids swim in the pool and build sandcastles on the beach. These spring break activities are fun, but they can also be harmful if the necessary precautions aren’t taken.
“Many people are aware of the risks of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation on the skin, but often, they do not realize the dangerous effects on the eyes,” said Dr. Mark Lynn, owner and/or operator of 45 Dr. Bizer’s VisionWorld, Doctor’s ValuVision and Doctor’s VisionWorks in Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Georgia. “UV-A and UV-B radiation can have long- and short-term effects on a person’s vision.”
Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation over a short period of time can cause photokeratitis, which is like sunburn of the eyes. Symptoms include painful, red eyes, extreme sensitivity to light, excessive tearing and a foreign body sensation. Photokeratitis rarely causes permanent damage, but long-term exposure to the sun can be more harmful. Research has shown long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation over many years can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration and damage of the retina. With spring break approaching, Dr. Mark Lynn and Associates is warning kids, teens and their parents to take note of some important vision safety tips before heading south:
• Children should wear goggles when swimming in pools or hot tubs to protect their eyes from chlorine.
• UV rays from the sun or a tanning bed can cause age-related macular degeneration. Always wear sunglasses or eye protection when tanning.
• When buying new eyewear, look for lenses that block out 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.
• Sunglasses should wrap all the way around to your temples so sunrays can’t damage your eyes.
• The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Wear a hat/sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays.
• New cataract implants (IOLs) can block the sun’s harmful rays. Speak with your doctor before having surgery.
• Research shows UV radiation increases the risk of developing certain kinds of cataracts. Millions of Americans develop cataracts and cost billions of dollars to treat each year.
• Protective eyewear also helps prevent: macular degeneration, skin cancer around the eyes and pterygium, (tissue growth that can block vision).
• Overexposure to UV radiation can weaken the body’s immune system, reducing the skin’s ability to protect against invaders, including cancers and infections.
• Drinking alcohol in excess can cause blurred vision and can impair a person’s ability to drive.
“We hope people will take note of these important tips to prevent damage to their vision this spring,” Dr. Lynn said.
For more information, visit the American Optometric Association at www.aoa.org.