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Questions and Answers About Sun Protection

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Dr. Feldman & Dr. De Berardis Answer Your Questions About Sun Protection


Q: When can a person do to protect themselves from sun exposure?

Wearing a hat and sunglasses is the best way to protect the face and eyes from sun exposure.


Q: What exactly are “ultraviolet rays?”

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation that are responsible for summer tans and sunburns. However, too much exposure to UV radiation is damaging to living tissue. Electromagnetic radiation comes from the sun and is transmitted in waves or particles at different wavelengths and frequencies. This broad range of wavelengths is known as the electromagnetic spectrum The spectrum is generally divided into seven regions in order of decreasing wavelength and increasing energy and frequency. The common designations are radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma-rays. UV light falls in the range of the EM spectrum between visible light and X-rays. UV is generally divided into three sub-bands: UVA, UVB and UVC.


Q: How can people protect themselves from the sun’s UV rays?

The eyes and face can be protected from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses and a hat and the skin on the body can be protected by the use of sunscreen and protective clothing.


Q: Are sunglasses an important part of a sun protection plan?

Sunglasses are an integral part of any sun protection plan. They block the harmful UV rays that can burn the eyes and that contribute to the development of eye diseases such as Age-Related Macular Degeneration and cataracts.


Q: What type of sunglasses best protect from UV rays?

Look for sunglasses that protect you from 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB light. This includes those labeled as “UV 400,” which blocks all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers.


Q: I have heard about blue light being a concern as well. Can you talk a little bit about this and what it means for protecting your eyes?

The eyes are sensitive to a narrow band of light frequencies called the visible light spectrum. Blue light has the shortest wavelength of the visible light spectrum, and blue rays with the shortest wavelengths have the most energy. Blue light is generally defined as visible light ranging from 380 to 500 nanometers. Our main source of blue light is sunlight, however, the number of indoor man-made sources of blue light is on the rise. This includes fluorescent lighting, LED lighting, and display screens such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and flat screen TVs. With changes to the way we light our homes and offices, as well as the increased use of direct illumination for reading, exposure to blue light is increasing. Despite the fact that the eye is good at blocking UV rays from reaching the retina, the eye is not very good at blocking blue light. Virtually all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. The effect of this exposure is cumulative, and the total number of exposure hours is what matters. A child’s crystalline lens is more transparent to short wavelengths – such as blue light – than that of an adult, making children more sensitive to blue light effects than adults. Exposure to blue light may contribute to the following: Age-Related Macular Degeneration, cataracts, eyestrain and sleep issues. Blue light blocking lenses are now available to protect the eyes from the harmful effects of blue light.


Q: I’ve heard of getting my skin sunburned, but can your eyes also get sunburned?

Eye sunburns, also known as photokeratitis, are actually a thing — and they can happen if you stare at the sun. Photokeratitis is basically like having a sunburn on the front part of your eye. Photokeratitis causes redness, blurry vision, sensitivity to bright light, and in rare cases, even temporary vision loss. The longer your eyes are exposed to UV rays, the more severe the symptoms can be. Just like having a sunburn on the skin can be painful and uncomfortable, photokeratitis can be a painful eye condition. You don’t have to be staring directly at the sun to risk burning your eyes. Photokeratitis can also be caused by reflections from the sun, like when it hits water or snow.


Q: Do darker sunglasses mean better sun protection?

One of the biggest misconceptions is that people think their eyes are protected by wearing very dark sunglasses. Nothing can be further from the truth. The tint of the lens has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of ultraviolet protection the lens provides. However, most people prefer darker tinted lenses to decrease the intensity of the sun on very bright days.


Q: Does having a prescription make it harder to get the right sunglasses?

No, prescription sunglasses can be made with a variety of tint colours and darkness, as well as full UV protection.