Give Your Eyes Some Protection from the Sun

Eye Glasses Portland, ORLast summer’s solar eclipse, which passed right over Portland, made everyone think about protecting their eyes from the sun. After all, looking at the eclipse for more than just a couple of seconds could cause permanent eye damage. But most days when we’re out walking the dog, hiking in the Cascades, or moving some monstrous Shasta Daisies in the yard we don’t give protection from UV rays much thought, including what they can be doing to our eyes.

We all know the sun beats up on our skin, but we don’t know as much about what it can do to our eyes. Since the health of your eyes is our mission at The Eye Clinic, here’s the lowdown on solar radiation and your eyes.

The long and short of it

You’ve heard about ultraviolet radiation (UV) and your skin. It isn’t any better for your eyes. Beyond the sun, UV radiation also comes from artificial sources such as welding machines, tanning beds, and lasers. Both kinds of UV radiation, UVA and UVB, can affect your eyes both short term and long term.

Over the short term, UV radiation can cause photokeratitis. This is akin to sunburn of the eyes. It can be somewhat painful with symptoms such as red eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, excessive tearing, and sensitivity to light. These issues are temporary.

Long-term UV exposure is more dangerous. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to small amounts of UV radiation over the years increases the chance of developing cataracts and may lead to retina damage. The longer the exposure, the greater the chances of developing cataracts and other issues such as macular degeneration.

How to protect your eyes

The team at The Eye Clinic recommends that you wear quality sunglasses (we have an awesome selection in our Optical Shop) and a hat or cap with a wide brim. Certain contact lenses have built-in UV protection, as well, so ask for those with your next order.

To provide adequate protection, your sunglasses should:

  • Block out 99 to 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays.
  • Screen out 75 to 90% of visible light.
  • Have gray lenses so represent color accurately.
  • Be high quality and free of distortion.
  • Provide impact resistance if you wear them during hazardous work or for sports.
  • If you are out a lot, wrap-around frames provide additional protection.

Some issues that arise from sun damage don’t show any noticeable symptoms until your vision has already been impacted. That’s another reason to be sure to keep your regular eye exams with us at The Eye Clinic. Call us at either (503) 228-6681 (Portland) or (503) 297-4718 (St. Vincent) to schedule your next appointment.

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St. Vincent: 503.297.4718 Downtown: 503.228.6681