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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.

Top 5 Tips for Managing Eye Allergies This Spring

Spring is a season of new beginnings, when the cold harsh winter months are behind us, flowers bloom, and people begin spending more time outdoors.

For people with allergies, spring means one more thing: suffering. Spring may be in the air, but for allergy sufferers, so is pollen, pet dander, mold, and dust. These airborne allergens can trigger uncomfortable reactions such as watery eyes, coughing, sneezing, congestion, and sinus pain.

There are some things you can do to minimize the discomfort throughout the spring season.

Check out Our Top 5 Tips for Getting Through Eye Allergy Season:

  1. Pollen tends to have a higher count in the mornings and early evenings. During these times, stay inside and keep windows closed. If you enjoy an early morning exercise run, consider an alternative indoor workout during peak allergy season.
  2. Take a shower before going to sleep. Doing this at night can rinse away any lingering allergens and leave you with a clearer eye and nasal area, as well as a more restful night’s sleep.
  3. Keep artificial tears close by. They can temporarily alleviate ocular allergy symptoms by lubricating your eyes when they feel dry and itchy, and they’re usually small enough to fit inside a purse or pocket. If you don’t have any good eye drops, use a cool compress as an alternative method of relief.
  4. If your allergies are caused by dust or pet dander, vacuum. A lot. Dust collects quickly and can be difficult to spot until there’s a high amount of it. Pets can shed fast and often, and just when you think you’ve removed all the fur from your sofa, carpet, or bed, you suddenly find more, so vacuum a few times each week.
  5. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and change your linens more often during the spring season. Remnants of airborne allergens can stay on your hands, towels, and bed sheets. Washing them more frequently can minimize some of your allergic reactions.

Though it may be tempting, don’t rub your eyes. This can actually aggravate the allergy response. If you find yourself using artificial tears more than 4 times a day, or other short-term solutions aren’t enough, speak with your eye doctor. You may be able to receive antihistamine eye drops or other prescription medications to ease your discomfort.

When It’s More Than Allergies

Certain eye allergy symptoms can also be signs of eye conditions or diseases, so pay close attention to any reactions that don’t dissipate after allergy season ends.

These Eye Symptoms can include:

  • Dryness
  • Excessive tearing
  • Itchiness
  • Persistent eye pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

These Symptoms Can Indicate Eye conditions, Such As:

  • Blepharitis (inflamed eyelids)
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Corneal Abrasions
  • Dry Eye Disease
  • Styes (an oil gland infection that causes a bump or pimple-like shape in the eyelid)

Eye Allergies and Contact Lenses

If you wear contact lenses, speak to your doctor about daily disposable contacts. These can be a great option for allergy sufferers. Since dailies are thrown away at the end of the day, there’s no heavy allergen buildup on the lenses to worry about.

Consider switching to eyeglasses for a while. Even the most comfortable soft lenses can feel irritable during allergy season. Use the springtime to get yourself a new look. With a wide range of incredible styles to choose from, including exclusive eyewear collections from today’s hottest designers, there’s something for everyone. Not sure what the choose? Talk to your optician to help you find a style that’s right for you.

An Ocular Allergy Optometrist Near You

We’re here for you, and we want to help. Contact your eye doctor for any specific questions or concerns about your eye allergies.