Not everyone knows this fact but it is possible for our eyes to get sunburned. Not in the same manner however, as our skin does. Studies have proven that prolonged and excessive exposure to the sun can do a lot of damage to our eyes in the long run. This can inflame the conjunctiva, which is the white part of the eye. This condition is called photokeratitis. The symptoms of this can include the redness of the eyes, discomfort, as well as sensitivity to light. This can be remedied easily though. One can use lubricating eye drops and anti-inflammatory drops. Usually, the people having these symptoms usually recover after a couple of days with no permanent damage to their sight.
However, if the eye is exposed to the sun for an excessively long period of time, the cumulative effects of this may cause the speeding up of the ageing of the macula, which is the focusing part of the retina. This can lead to cataracts. If the lens or the retina is damaged, it may not fully recover.
A person is at a great risk when he or she stares directly at the sun with no eye protection whatsoever. This can damage or even destroy the cells in the central retina of the eye, which can lead to vision impairment. Some may eventually recover their vision, but there are many unlucky ones who go blind after this. This condition is common in people who are viewing solar eclipses, as well as people who stare at the sun under the influence of psychedelic drugs.
One cannot feel the effects immediately, but sooner or later, the effects of prolonged exposure to the sun or the tanning machine may manifest itself just when it is least expected. These people who have greater exposure to the sun are more prone to have cataracts than those people with less exposure. Fortunately cataract surgery is now available and can help in restoring the lost vision. On the other hand, since cataract surgery is expensive and not without risk, therefore the best thing to do is take preventive measures to avoid the condition.
There are a lot of ways in order to protect our eyes from getting sunburn. These are some tips:
1. Wear shades or eyewear that has built-in UV protection of 99-100%. Wearing glasses without any UV protection might do more harm than good, as these lenses allow more UV rays to get into our eyes and do harm.
2. If you are wearing contact lenses, there are now newer contact lenses with built-in UV protection. Consult you contact lens provider for more information about these products.
3. Wear protective clothing, such as wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved clothing.
4. Do wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, since the UV rays of the sun can still penetrate through the clouds.
5. Avoid sun exposure during 10am-2pm, where the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest.
6. Wear protective eyewear when exposed to the tanning lights as well as welding lamps.
Prolonged exposure to the sun is not only harmful to the skin but to the eyes as well. Proper protection as well as prevention is the key to avoid complications and vision loss in one’s later years.