Ultraviolet (UV) light is just outside of our visual range. It’s fairly energetic and causes changes to human tissue. This occurs as tanning of the skin, sun burns, premature aging of the skin, and damage to the eyes. Just as some types of people are more likely to suffer from skin cancer because of UV exposure, some types of people have a better than average chance of suffering from UV related eye damage.
There are two general factors that contribute to this vulnerability: your genetics and external circumstances that increase your exposure to sunlight.
Just as fair-skinned people have a higher incidence of skin cancer, people with light-colored eyes such as blue or green have a higher risk of melanoma of the eye. Light-colored eyes have less light-absorbing pigment than brown colored eyes. The more light absorbed by this pigment, the less light (including UV) that gets past the iris into the rest of the eye.
Another difficulty of light-colored eyes is that they increase overall sensitivity to intense sunlight. Increased light sensitivity causes discomfort and squinting. Everyone temporarily experience this when walking into bright sunlight after spending hours in a dark room. Those with a heightened sensitivity feel this way all the time when exposed to bright sunlight.
These disadvantages are easily corrected by wearing sunglasses that protect against UV light and block out a sufficient amount of intense sunlight. Everyone, including those with brown eyes, should always use sunglasses for protection against UV and intense glare. This is due to the fact that everyone can suffer from eye cataracts and macular degeneration after years of exposure to UV light.
Glare also affects those with darker eyes. It simply takes more of it. It may not cause the same level of discomfort, but it still interferes with a clear view of the road when driving.
Your External Circumstances
There are many external factors that increase your risk of UV related eye damage. These include:
You’re an Outdoors Person
This makes sense since UV eye damage is a cumulative process. Your risk of UV eye problems later in life is the sum of all the hours spent every day in the sun. This includes cloudy days. Some activities are especially risky. These include skiing, mountain climbing, time at the beach, and boating. Nike sunglasses have a large selection that accommodates the needs of most outdoor enthusiasts and athletes.
You Live in Mountainous or Sunbelt States
The higher your altitude, the less atmosphere above you to protect against UV light. This means you get a higher rate of exposure than someone living at sea level.
Thick clouds and bad weather do block some UV light. However, sunbelt states are predominantly sunny, which means you get more UV exposure than those who live elsewhere. The southerly locale of the sunbelt states also means the sun is higher overhead during all seasons of the year. Sunglasses are a must for those living in areas with high UV levels.
You’ve Had Cataract Surgery
A cataract is a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes clouded. During cataract surgery, the clouded lens is replaced by a clear artificial lens. These lenses used to be made from a material that absorbed little UV light. However, the newer lenses absorb more UV.
If you’ve had this surgery, ask your doctor which lens type was used. Those who don’t benefit from the newer lenses, must protect their eyes with 100% UV blocking sunglasses.
You Take Certain Prescription or Over-The-Counter Drugs
Some drugs make the eyes more vulnerable to UV damage. These include some birth control and estrogen pills, some malaria drugs, psoriasis drugs containing psoralens, and antibiotics with fluoroquinolones and tetracycline. Ask your doctor about your medications. If they increase your risk of UV eye damage, use eyeware with UV protection.
Do you use eyewear with 100% UVA and UVB protection when you’re outdoors? If not, get a pair of Nike sunglasses or Nike prescription sunglasses. Contact us for more details.