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Sun Awareness Week: eye health

As we start to enjoy the arrival of Spring with any luck the sun will start shining through and give us warmer weather to enjoy the longer days.

We’re all looking forward to shedding the winter layers and reaching for the sun cream to protect our skin from UVA and UVB rays from the sun. 

One thing we may not consider is the damage those same rays can do to our eyes. It is important to start wearing proper eye protection at an early age to shield your eyes from years of ultraviolet exposure. The damage caused can take years to materialise and, by the time we notice the damage, it is often too late to reverse the effects. 

Some of the conditions caused by UVA and UVB rays are: 

  • Cataracts:  The most common cause of treatable sight loss and blindness, cataracts cloud and yellow the lens of your eye, causing progressive vision loss. 
  • Macular degeneration:  A major cause of vision loss for people over age 60, macular degeneration is caused by cumulative UV damage to the central portion of the retina, the back layer inside each eye that records what we see and sends it to your brain. 
  • Keratitis, or corneal sunburn: UV exposure can cause painful burning of the cornea, the clear surface that admits light and images to the retina. Also known as “snowblindness”, this condition occurs in skiers and hikers because of the sun’s intensity at altitudes and its reflective nature off water, snow and ice. 
  • Conjunctival cancers: although rare, these eye cancers are increasing, especially among older people. 

The best way to protect your eyes in the sun would be to avoid direct exposure although, even in this country, this can be quite difficult. You can wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays; any reputable company will have this as standard. Prescription glasses can include a polarising tint that offers protection too. Hats with a good sized brim will provide shade for your eyes and the skin around them. Being aware of your surroundings and weather changes is great too as with cloud cover we often forget that harmful rays can still get through. Crucially bear in mind that, even if it is not hot in the sun, damage can still happen. 

SSW has Cocoon branded sunglasses available in the centre for £45 (RRP £59.99). Get in touch if you’d like to know more.

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