July is National Ultraviolet Safety Month, which means that Dr. Young H. Choi wants to inform his patients in the Birmingham, AL area about helpful eye safety tips that lessen the chance of eye damage. Ultraviolet rays can potentially cause cataracts or macular degeneration, which are two of the main causes of vision loss. At Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center, Dr. Choi offers eye exams to check his patients’ eye health and to determine if they have suffered any eye damage from UV light.
UV risk factors
There are many factors that affect your level of UV exposure, including:
Medications: If you’re on diuretics, tranquilizers, birth control, or tetracyclines, you could be more sensitive to UV radiation.
Location: UV exposure is much greater when you’re closer to the equator.
Altitude: The greater the altitude, the higher the risk for harmful exposure.
Time of day: UV exposure is greater when the sun is higher in the sky, usually from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Although there is a risk for sun exposure year-round, you should be especially careful when you have an increased risk of UV light exposure.
Understanding UV light
Ultraviolet rays have higher energy than those in visible light. This is what makes them so incredibly harmful. There are three categories of UV radiation, including:
UVC: These are the highest energy UV rays that are most harmful to the eyes and skin.
UVB: These are slightly lower energy than UVC, but they can still be damaging even in low doses. Overexposure to UVB radiation can lead to photokeratitis.
UVA: UVA rays can easily pass through the cornea and reach the lens and retina. Overexposure has been linked to the development of cataracts and degeneration.
During an eye exam, Dr. Choi can determine if patients have suffered from UV damage, and offer tips on how to protect their eyes.
What eye problems can develop because of excessive UV light exposure?
Too much UV light exposure can lead to an increased risk for developing eye or eyelid cancer, cataracts, eye growths, and photokeratitis. Every time you’re exposed to the sun, you can add some type of damage if you are not wearing protective eyewear. Babies and children also need protection since almost 80% of all UV exposure occurs before the age of 18. Eye growths can develop as early as the teenage years.
Ways to protect your eyes from UV exposure
To protect your eyes from harmful rays in Birmingham, AL, follow these eye protection tips:
Wear sunglasses: Sunglasses that block 99 – 100% UVA and UVB radiation are optimal. Sunglasses can help protect against harmful UV light as well as prevent eyelid cancer, protect the retina, protect the cornea from sunburn, and stop cataracts from forming, as well as protect the whites of the eyes. It’s important to understand that not all sunglasses are created equal, so wearing high-quality sunglasses is important for the best eye protection.
Wear hats: While sunglasses offer protection, there are still gaps around the lenses that can give the sun’s rays access to your eyes. A wide-brimmed hat can help provide further protection.
Seek the shade: Take breaks from the sun regularly to provide relief from the rays, especially during the times that the sun is most harmful – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Use UV-blocking contacts: Contacts that block UV rays offer the best type of eye protection. Dr. Choi can inform you of your options for contact lenses that best protect your eyes.
Schedule regular eye exams: Comprehensive eye exams at Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center allows us to detect problems early on before damage worsens and causes serious eye conditions.
Learn how to protect your eyesight from UV exposure
At Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center, we believe in prevention. Dr. Young H. Choi can evaluate your eyes and diagnose many eye issues at his Vestavia Hills, AL office. If any eye conditions are detected, he can offer a variety of treatment options to relieve or resolve symptoms you may be experiencing. To schedule an appointment for an eye exam to learn more about summer eye safety, call our vision professionals today to schedule an appointment.