EYES GET SUNBURNED TOO By Cord Prettyman, MPT
One of the great wonders of the human body is its ability to repair or replace damaged cells. Red blood cells, for instance, live for about 120 days. Every day, approximately one-percent of your red blood cells are replaced by a fresh generation.
The lens of the human eye, however, is a notable exception. The cells of the lens of the eye are not replaced and the proteins of the lens are never replenished. Simply put, your eyes cannot repair themselves from the damage that accumulates over a lifetime.
Most Americans know that the sun can damage their skin but in one telephone survey of one thousand adults, only 6 percent were aware the sun could cause eye damage.
Furthermore, only 18 percent of Americans take precautions to protect their eyes from the sun.
The lens of the eye is responsible for adjusting focus. Behind the lens lies the retina, the thin lining of the back of the eye.
The retina is the eye’s miracle. This patch of tissue, about the size and thickness of a postage stamp, dissolves and creates a new image every tenth of a second. The macula is the part of the retina that distinguishes fine detail at the center of the field of vision.
Numerous studies have shown that exposure to ultraviolet light can contribute to a number of ocular complications. Photokeratitis or “snow blindness” is a painful but reversible sunburn of the cornea. Cataracts are due to accumulating damage to the proteins of the lens and pterygium is an abnormal growth on the eye’s surface that can require surgery.
The most serious long-term consequence to UV light exposure is macular degeneration from the accumulation of damage to the retina. Retinal diseases are the leading cause of blindness in the United States, today.
Unprotected, excessive exposure to the sun’s rays, especially during early childhood, is harmful to the eyes. The risk for retinal damage from the sun’s rays is greatest in children younger than ten years old, although the consequences are not usually apparent until adulthood.
Here’s what the experts recommend to minimize your risk of becoming a UV radiation ocular casualty:
All children should wear “real” sunglasses not toy sunglasses.
All sunglasses are not the same. Effective sunglasses need to be rated to block out 99 to 100 percent of UV radiation.
Use sunglasses with large lenses that wrap around for maximum protection.
Dark colored sunglasses do not necessarily provide better protection. A chemical coating applied to the lens is responsible for UV protection.
Ordinary sunglasses without a chemical coating actually make the situation worse because the dark lenses cause the pupils to dilate allowing more of the dangerous UVA radiation to damage the lens and retina.
UV-absorbing contact lenses are not a substitute for sunglasses.
Don’t be misguided by price. Higher priced sunglasses usually reflect fashion and not UV protection.
Wear a hat with at least a three-inch brim for additional eye protection.
Be proactive in protecting your eyes. They are irreplaceable.
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org though his website at www.cordprettyman.com.