May is Ultraviolet Awareness Month

If you’ve ever had a sunburn on your skin, you’ve experienced the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. What you might not be aware of is the damage that these rays can cause to your eyes, especially the fact that the damage caused is cumulative — you may not realize the damage until years later.

Extended exposure to UV rays has been linked to eye damage, including these conditions:

Cataracts: Lab studies have implicated UV radiation as a cause of cataracts. It has also been shown that certain types of cataracts are associated with a history of higher ocular exposure to UV — and especially UV-B — radiation.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): Exposure to UV and other types of intense visible radiation is damaging to retinal tissue. It has been speculated that chronic UV exposure may contribute to degenerative processes in the retina.

Pterygium: This is a non-cancerous growth of clear, thin tissue that lays over the white of the eye and can extend onto the clear cornea where it can block your vision. While the cause is unknown, it is more common in people with excess outdoor exposure to sunlight.

Photokeratitis: This is a reversible sunburn of the cornea, resulting from excessive UV-B exposure. It can be extremely painful for one to two days and result in a temporary loss of vision.

Fortunately, adequate eye protection is an effective preventative for eye damage caused by the sun’s rays. Quality sunglasses should block out 99% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. There are other options for everyday eyewear, including UV-blocking lens materials, coatings and photochromatic lenses.

For more information and resources about safeguarding your vision from UV rays, please visit our web site at or call Dr. Frank or Dr. Marczewski at (815) 758-1039.

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