Macular degeneration is also a nasty problem UV light can perpetuate. Although not the only cause, long lifetime exposure to UV light certainly can bring about macular degeneration sooner in individuals and can cause it to be more severe. Unfortunately, treatment options for macular degeneration are slim and the end result is total central blindness. Like many diseases, the best treatment is prevention.

The majority of UV light exposure is caused from sunlight, as such there should never be a time when the sun is out that protection shouldn’t be on (even if it’s cloudy, UV light can penetrate cloud cover.) Remember - just because they are “sunglasses” doesn’t mean they protect your eyes from UV light AND just because your lenses are clear doesn’t necessarily mean there is no UV protection in them. Sunglass companies are very good at advertising UV protection, so if you purchase a pair from a retail store, look out for stickers and labels stating 100% UV-B protection. If you are unsure, bring them to me, I’ll show you a cool way to find out (without going blind in the process.) The majority of the prescription lenses we sell also have UV protection. You may have protection without knowing it. Also, some (but not all) contact lenses have UV protection as well. I’d be more than happy to discuss options at our next visit.

Finally, although some UV protection is good, there’s always room for improvement. Even though the majority of UV exposure happens outside, some can occur indoors as well. Certain light bulbs can also produce a minimal amount of UV light, over a long time, this can add up. Studies are showing that constant blue and violet light exposure from computer screens can accumulate over time and cause UV-like damage. Certain anti-reflective coatings have been produced to combat this, too. The auto industry requires all windshields to have UV protection, however no such requirement exists for side windows (which is why the left window and therefore left eye of the truck driver is in danger of long exposures!) UV protecting contact lenses are great for the cornea, lens, and macula, but not so much for the rest of the eye, therefore UV protected sunglasses are preferable. Of course, it’s very unlikely you will have any issues with UV light if you live in a cave lined with lead, however this lifestyle can lead to lead poisoning (and how will Superman find you in an emergency!) Just kidding of course, but seriously, everyone has a certain risk factor when it comes to UV light, and some may require more protection than others.

I’d be more than happy to discuss risks with you at our next exam. At the very least, while you’re enjoying the beautiful weather this July, be sure to wear your (UV blocking) sunglasses!