In a new study data has been released that show that sun damage can cause cornea sunburn and skin cancer of the eyelids, and can contribute to cataracts, a U.S. researchers says.
Dr. George Cioffi, chief of ophthalmology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, said everyone should protect their eyes from overexposure to harmful ultraviolet rays, but some are at higher risk.
"People with retinal disorders, with light-colored eyes, cataract surgery patients and those taking medications that increase eye sensitivity to light should take extra steps to protect their eyes from the sun all year," Cioffi said in a statement.
Dr. Christopher Starr, director of refractive surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said there are strong indications chronic exposure to the sun may accelerate aging of eye tissue.
To protect eyes, Cioffi and Starr said:
-- Sunglass protection is recommended year-round. Even on cloudy days the UV index can be dangerously high. Sunglasses should provide more than 95 percent UV protection and, ideally, 100 percent -- sometimes labeled as UV400 on the glasses.
-- Most people believe darker sunglasses provide better protection against the sun, but that is not true. The lens tint should block 80 percent of transmissible light but no more than 90 percent to 92 percent of light. Neutral gray, amber, brown or green are good colors to choose from.
-- Choose sunglasses that wrap all the way around the temples, and/or wear a hat with at least a 3-inch brim.
-- Wear shades over contact lenses.
-- Buy sunglasses for children.
Eyes, particularly the cornea (the clear window of tissue on the front of the eyeball), can be easily damaged by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and from other sources of ultraviolet light, such as a welder's arc, a photographer's flood lamps, a sun lamp, or even a halogen desk lamp.
The cornea takes the brunt of the damage if proper eye protection is not worn, such as dark glasses or goggles while skiing in bright sun. A corneal flash burn (also called ultraviolet [UV] keratitis) can be considered to be a sunburn of the eye surface.
- The cornea covers the iris (the colored part of the eye), focuses light on theretina, and protects deeper structures of the eye by acting like a windshield to the eye. The corneal surface consists of cells similar to those in the skin. The cornea is normally clear.
- Corneal damage from a corneal flash burn or from a disease may cause pain, changes in vision, or loss of vision.