Experts say you should wear sunglasses all day from March to September



Most of us know that if we don’t protect our skin from the sun, it will burn and leave us vulnerable to damage.

But what few people realize is that the effects of the sun can be even more damaging to our eyes.

In fact, research by the Australian Skin Cancer Foundation has found that the eyes are ten times more sensitive to invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun than the skin.

Not only can your eyeballs themselves be sunburnt, leaving them sore and rough, prolonged exposure to sunlight is believed to accelerate the onset of conditions that threaten vision, including cataracts (when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy) and age-related macular degeneration (when central vision deteriorates).

Most of us know that if we don’t protect our skin from the sun, it will burn and leave us vulnerable to damage. But what few people realize is that the effects of the sun can be even more damaging to our eyes.

Both of these phenomena are linked to aging, but excessive exposure to UV rays can increase the risk of their development.

Meanwhile, 10 percent of all skin cancers occur on the thin skin of the eyelid, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the cancer can occur on the eyeball itself.

This is why experts are now insisting that there be as much emphasis on wearing sunglasses as on wearing sunscreen.

“It is imperative that we protect our eyes from the sun by wearing UV-resistant sunglasses,” says Samer Hamada, consultant eye surgeon at the Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in East Grinstead and the London Eye Clinic.

“I would say that wearing the right sunglasses to protect your eyes is just as important as wearing sunscreen to protect your skin.”

As with the skin, it is the sun’s ultraviolet rays – UVA and UVB – that damage the eyes.

“UVA rays contain high levels of radiation energy that can pass through the cornea, the transparent front window of the eye, to the retina at the back of the eye,” says Hamada.

“Over time, this causes lasting damage, resulting in serious long-term conditions.

“UVB rays can damage the cornea itself – this is called photokeratitis – and looks like sunburn of the eye itself.”

Also known as snow blindness, eyeball sunburns can be very painful and cause long-term damage if they repeat themselves often, says Roshni Kanabar, optician at St Albans, Herts and clinical advisor at the ‘Association of Optometrists.

Make sure the blinds are out of the sun

When buying a pair of sunglasses, “look for the European ‘CE’ standard or label indicating UV protection against UVA and UVB or UV 400,” explains optician Roshni Kanabar. This means that the sunglasses have passed the safety standards.

Often, fake designer or fashion sunglasses don’t have these labels, so they wouldn’t protect your eyes, says Roshni Kanabar.

“In fact, wearing dark glasses without UV protection could even damage your eyes. This is because they dilate your pupils, letting in even more light, which makes it worse if the lens does not have UV protection. ‘

“Patients may experience bloodshot, sore eyes that are hypersensitive to light because the cornea has been damaged, and some describe a feeling of sand in their eyes when they blink.

“This damage is usually short-lived and the discomfort can be alleviated with lubricating eye drops.”

UV damage is also believed to cause eye, pinguecula, and pterygium damage, when lesions appear on the conjunctiva (the white of the eye).

This can lead to blurry vision over time and the lesions must be removed surgically, as they can enlarge and affect vision.

Some people’s eyes are more prone to sun damage than others, a lot depends on your eye color. People with lighter eyes (blue, green or hazelnut) have less pigment to protect them from UV rays, so they are more at risk than those with brown eyes.

But regardless of the color, the easy way to avoid damage is to always wear sunglasses between March and September, says Roshni Kanabar, even on an overcast day because UV rays always penetrate the cloud cover.

“To protect our skin, we are often advised to avoid overexposure to the sun between 11 am and 3 pm when it is most intense,” she says.

“But for the eyes, the damage can be worse at other times of the day; this is because when the sun is over your head your forehead helps protect them from direct sunlight, but when the sun is lower it can more easily penetrate the back of your eye .

“So I advise people to wear sunglasses until it is dark – and especially in the early evening when the sun is low in the summer sky.”

And there are some key rules to follow when it comes to buying a pair.

For some, less light reaching their eyes is more comfortable, so it depends on your personal preferences and why you are wearing them.

For some, less light reaching their eyes is more comfortable, so it depends on your personal preferences and why you are wearing them.

“The key is not the price, but rather labels that prove UV protection [see box]’, says Roshni Kanabar.

The size of the frame is also important. “You should ideally choose sunglasses that are larger than your normal frames, as they will increase skin protection,” says Roshni Kanabar.

“The wrap-around style offers better protection on the sides and top, where some light can still reach the eye. If you’re going for a long hike or bike ride, say, this is especially important. For children, glasses type glasses might be more practical.

She says people often think it’s the blackness of the glasses that matters most.

“But whatever the shade, it’s the UV protection that matters – the darkness of the sunglasses only dictates how much light reaches the eye,” says Roshni Kanabar.

For some, less light reaching their eyes is more comfortable, so it depends on your personal preferences and why you are wearing them. The most important factor is that sunglasses have UV protection.

“While the darker ones are more suited to brighter environments like skiing, the only activity where hue really matters is driving,” adds Roshni Kanabar.

According to the ACT, when you drive at night, sunglasses that let in less than 75% of the light are inappropriate and illegal, she says.

Anyone, regardless of age, can benefit from wearing them, she adds.

“I tell the parents of my young patients that, according to the World Health Organization, 80% of your lifetime UV exposure occurs between birth and age 18.

“Children have larger pupils than adults, and because the lenses of people’s eyes are often clearer when they are younger, more light enters them than adults.”

Mr Hamada agrees: “It is never too late to start wearing them and the benefits of wearing them for all ages far outweigh the cons as the goal is to minimize the hours during which our eyes are exposed to UV light. “

Happy hour

Daily activities that boost your happiness hormones. This week: gardening

In addition to improving your mood through physical activity (which stimulates endorphins, the feel-good hormones), gardening also increases levels of serotonin (a mood-improving chemical messenger) through exposure to soil bacteria, according to a study by the University of Bristol and University College London.

When mice were injected with a bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae, it activated brain cells that trigger serotonin. Professor Chris Lowry, author of the article (published in the journal Neuroscience in 2007) said that these studies “help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for mental health.”

“They also leave us wondering if we shouldn’t all be spending more time playing in the dirt,” he says.

Professor Lowry, currently at the University of Boulder in the United States, has also found that M. vaccae can reduce stress and potentially treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Tools of the trade

The history of medical instruments. This week: The scalpel

Although it has been the standard tool of surgeons since Roman times, today it is mainly used to make the initial incision.

Evidence of knives for surgery has been found as early as 10,000-8,000 BC. These were initially made of flint or a volcanic glass called obsidian.

As different civilizations developed the tool, the material changed – first copper, then bronze, and finally iron. Around the year 100-200 AD, the Romans called the surgical scalpel the “scalpellus”, a derivative of the Latin scalpere meaning “to cut”.

From the end of the 19th century, greater awareness of the infection led to the sterilization of surgical knives using steam and chemicals. The need for constant sterilization led to the development of disposable scalpels in the 20th century.

The disposable scalpel, now the most commonly used scalpel in surgery, typically consists of a plastic handle (which can be reused) with a disposable stainless steel or carbon blade.


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