man at the beach with sunglassesAs most beachgoers slather on the latest sunblock lotion to protect their skin from the kind of sunburns that can lead to skin cancer, they ignore the fact that their eyes need the same level of care and attention. The intensity of the sun’s rays can sometimes cause irreparable damage to the retina. Responsible physicians like those who identify themselves as an eye doctor on Long Island NY encourage their patients to wear sunglasses to help protect their eyes. As many already know, ultraviolet rays are invisible to the human eye, but they leave much damage to the eyes in their paths.

Understanding Ultraviolet Rays
Ultraviolet rays are the energy that the sun gives off. These rays are invisible to the human eye, but they can be categorized as three basic types: UVA, UVB and UVC.

UVC rays, the shortest of the three, have the power to do the most harm to the eyes because they have the highest energy. For centuries, many experts believed humans were relatively safe from the effects of UVC rays because they were mostly blocked by the ozone layer. Recent discoveries of ozone layer depletion, however, have made this a more pressing concern. The more UVC rays that are allowed to beam through the ozone layer, the more likely the chance of health problems that are directly related to UVC rays.

Medium-length UVB rays have slightly lower energy than UVC rays. The main benefit of UVB energy is that is stimulates melanin in the skin. It is the reason that people get tanned when they have spent significant time exposed to the sun. Too much exposure, though, can cause sunburn, skin discoloration and premature wrinkling. This kind of overexposure is what leads to skin cancer.

The UVA rays are the longest and appear mostly as visible light to the human eye. These rays can damage the retina by passing through the cornea. Macular degeneration and other eye diseases have been directly linked to UVA exposure.

UV Exposure Has Both Positive and Negative Effects
When the human body is overexposed to this energy, it is deeply harmful, although it is quite beneficial to the natural world. For example, although humans cannot see UV rays, bees can, and they need the rays to help them see the pollen they collect from flowers.

There are other ways that UV is more beneficial than harmful. In situations of proper exposure, UV rays keep human bones and teeth strong and give the body Vitamin D, which helps to build the immune system. UV has also been known to assist with improving psoriasis, a skin and scalp condition that can cause burning, itching, flaking, blistering or inflamed lesions. In much the same way that UV rays sterilize and disinfect contaminated surfaces, it slows the growth of the skin cells that are affected with psoriasis.

Although these good uses for UV light have been well-documented, it should not lull anyone into ignoring the harmful effects that UV can have on the body and the eyes.

lady wearing sunglassesWhat Diseases Does UV Light Cause to the Eyes?
There are several eye diseases that have been directly traced back to the length of time eyes are exposed to the sun:

  • Macular Degeneration: This disease is often associated with elders. It usually develops when a person is over 65. The macula, or the part of the retina that gives the sharp eyesight that is needed to drive or read, begins to deteriorate. The onset of macular degeneration is usually painless, but one of the early signs includes fuzzy or distorted vision in the central vision. A person suffering from this may not be able to see details on the face of another person because the details are shadowy or look as if someone has placed a grayish dot over the other person’s face.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts often make sufferers feel as if the light they are seeing from the sun or light bulb is too bright. Colors become duller than usual and tasks like driving at night become treacherous because of the intense glare from headlights. It is almost as if a haze covers whatever is being viewed. Sometimes cataract sufferers experience something called “second sight” when the haze disappears momentarily and their vision is extremely clear. This disease begins because the natural lens of the eye, which is made of water and protein, begins to experience clumping. The protein and water clumps are called cataracts.
  • Photokeratitis: This is a direct burning of the cornea that creates something commonly known as “snow blindness.” People suffering from photokeratitis are very sensitive to light and experience blurred vision, eye twitching and teary eyes.

long island eye doctor examinationWhy Sunglasses are Good Protection
Any eye doctor Long Island NY is prepared to make the case for wearing sunglasses to protect against UV rays. Sunglasses that perform this task well are able to block out 100 percent of UV rays. They are also made of material that can properly absorb HEV rays, or high-energy visible radiation that is also referred to as “blue light.”

Although there are many ways to be stylish with sunglasses, those that wrap around the sides of the face provide the most protection. The eyes should not only be guarded against a direct head-on glare, but they should also be protected from light that can seep in from the top, bottom of sides of the glasses. It is often tempting to make a fashion statement with sunglasses. However, the best statement to make is one that favors good eye health.

There has been a huge recent trend among the fashion conscious and sports-minded to choose sunglasses that offer polarization. These type of sunglasses selectively block glare, so that the glasses do not always go dark for every light-filled scenario. Those who drive and play sports have found themselves in very dangerous circumstances when their glasses suddenly darken whenever there is glare from water, snow or glass with automatically darkening (photochromic) sunglasses. Here are seven tips in finding the best eye doctor on Long Island to help you navigate the different sunglass options.

Polarized sunglasses have provided a much better option for those who wear sunglasses. They should not ever be confused with UV protection, however. Polarized sunglasses should still be able to offer some form of protection from UV rays to be effective.

If style is the primary motivation for purchasing sunglasses, perhaps it is more medically sound to have different glasses for different activities. So many different frame designs and lens shapes abound that the possibilities are endless. There are even sunglasses on the market that are impact-resistant. They are made of polycarbonate or Trivex and 10 times more shatterproof than glass or plastic. As long as the sunglasses fit the bridge of your nose and safely block the harmful effects of the sun, they can be designed to fit almost any fashion sense imaginable.