July 15, 2009
Protect Your Eyes During Hot Summer Weather
B.C. optometrists warn of UV damage: cataracts, macular degeneration and cancer.
“People know to put on sunscreen to protect their skin from UV radiation, but many don’t know that protecting their eyes from the sun is just as important,” said Dr. McDougall, a Vancouver optometrist.
Environment Canada is predicting above average temperatures this July and August, which will potentially expose British Columbians to higher levels of UV radiation from the sun. UV radiation can damage the cornea, lens or retina of your eyes and is linked to a number of eye disorders including cataracts, macular degeneration and cancer.
“Explore your options for protective eyewear,” says Dr. McDougall. “Eyewear does not have to be expensive to be effective. But a lifetime of exposure to UV radiation can be costly.”
The B.C. Association of Optometrists suggests a number of UV-protection options:
- Properly fitted sunglasses with a UV rating. Sunglasses should fit close to your face or wrap around the temples to reduce light from the side. Be sure the lenses offer UV-protection.
- Prescription sunglasses. Many people who work outdoors choose tinted or polarized prescription lenses that provide 100 per cent UV protection. The bigger the lens and the tighter it fits to your face, the better. Preferably, the lens wraps around the side of your head to prevent UV-light penetration from the top and sides.
- Ultraviolet treatments. Plastic lenses can be treated with an invisible coating that provides UV protection, but it must be applied before anti-reflective or scratch-resistant coatings. Usually, the coating is requested when ordering lenses.
- Polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate lenses are not only lighter and thinner than ordinary lenses, they also offer 100 per cent UV-protection. This type of lens is a good choice for people who spend the majority of their time outside. Polycarbonate lenses are much less scratch resistant then other lenses and may require extra care or a scratch resistant coating.
- Clip-on or magnetic shades. Many manufacturers of frames are now creating prescription eyeglass frames that come with matching clip-on or magnetic sunglasses. But while clip-on and magnetic shades are definitely a convenient option and do provide UV protection, they are not a replacement for properly fitting sunglasses because of the UV-light penetration from around the lenses.
- Slip-overs. Some manufacturers have designed attractive, wrap-around sunglasses that fit over prescription eyewear. With today’s smaller frame styles, the slip-overs provide more UV protection than clip-on styles or sunglasses that don’t wrap around.
For those who wear contact lenses, some manufacturers now make lenses with a level of UV protection. Ask your optometrist what options may be best for you.
Optometrists specialize in examining, diagnosing, treating, managing and preventing diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and related structures. It’s important children have a complete eye exam by six months, at three years, before entering school and regularly thereafter. Adults 19 to 64 should have an eye exam every two years. People with diabetes or age 65 or older should have an exam at least once a year.
For more information on eye health, visit www.whatcouldbemoreimportant.com
Mahafrine Petigara, media relations, 604.623.3007, or Mahafrine.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Environment Canada forecast: http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/saisons/image_e.html?img=sfe1t_s