Monday, June 3, 2013

Protect Your Eyes This Summer!

Disclosure: This post is part of a sponsored campaign from the Motherhood and The Vision Council. All opinions are my own.

I didn't take care of my skin in my teens or early twenties. After working with a plastic surgeon, I guess I saw enough to scare me into making skincare a top priority. I never go out without protection. I consider my eyes more important, but I never thought a lot about protection for my eyes. I wear sunglasses most of the time, but I don't make it as much of a priority. After The Motherhood asked me to attend a briefing given by The Vision Council, I am singing a different tune. The last time I went to the eye doctor, he noticed some changes with my eyes that were related to sun damage. The damage is irreversible damage but that is the price I have to pay for enjoying the sun too much without protecting my eyes. Even though I can't so anything about the past, I can protect myself from more damage and I can protect my children. Sunglasses are very important.
UV protection is important for a variety of reasons. Harmful UV rays can cause:

Short-term vision problems:
  • Photokeratitis (sunburn of the eye)
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Hyper sensitivity to light

Long-term vision problems:
  • Premature aging of the skin; wrinkles and sunspots
  • Prerygium (abnormal growth on the eye and eyelid)
  • Cataracts
  • Macular degeneration
  • Cancer of the eye, eyelid and surrounding skin

    UV Exposure Facts:

    • 72% of U.S. adults report that they wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun
    • A study by The Vision Council revealed that only 60% actually wear sunglasses outside
    • 48% of U.S. adults report that they make their children wear sunglasses to protect eyes from UV damage
    • UV damage is cumulative; the older someone is and the more exposure they’ve had to the sun will result in being more at risk for serious and debilitating vision problems
    • Researchers actually believe that lighter eyes experience more UV damage and that’s likely due to the fact that they have a lower incidence of melanin – which is a protective pigment
    • Children receive three times the annual sun exposure of adult
    • By the time an individual turns 18, he or she will have acquired nearly 80% of lifetime exposure to UV

I learned so many new things during this briefing. I learned more about the protection (and lack of protection) contacts offer. I also learned more about sunglasses and the protection they offer. I always assumed that darker lens meant more protection. Boy, was I wrong! It's all about personal preference. I also thought that cheap sunglasses were not as good as expensive glasses. Again, not true. Below are some questions asked during our Q&A with Dr. Adamopoulos:

Q: What’s the difference between UVA and UVB?
A: UVA rays account for up to 95% of UV radiation, and while less intense, they are much more prevalent than UVB rays. UVB rays are more prevalent on cloudy days and in high altitudes and are highly reflective off of snow and ice. The bottom line is that they are both damaging, so sunglasses need to protect against each.

Q: How do you make sure you’re keeping kids’ eyes safe while they are swimming at the pool? Do they make goggles with UV protection?
A:  Make it a habit to have them put on sunglasses as soon as they take a break from swimming. They do make goggles with UV protection, and they should be easy to find in normal sports stores.  

Q: Do transition lenses protect the eyes enough or should sunglasses be used instead?
A: Transition lenses definitely protect. The only thing transition lenses don’t do is cut down on the glare. Also, keep in mind that if glasses are too small then you aren’t protecting enough of your eye area.

Q: Are cataracts genetic?
A: Cataracts are more of an age issue. If you have enough birthdays, you’re going to get cataracts. The question is how soon you want that to happen. Cataracts are now starting to bother people younger as we spend more time on the computer, driving, being outdoors.

Q: Do they make contacts with UV protection?
A: They do make contacts with protection, however they don’t cover the entire eye.  It only covers the central portion, and the white part of the eye and eyelids are still exposed.

Q: Can you trust UV stickers? My daughter has a pair of sunglasses from the Disney store.
A: If they have that sticker, you really can. Every reputable store has to go by the American National Standard Institute regulations.

During the briefing, many topics were covered. We learned that scratches reduce the sunglasses ability to protect your eyes. We also learned that simple soap and water is the best way to clean your glasses. Never use Windex or alcohol, or other household cleaners. You should wear sunglasses anytime you go outside, all year long! If your children have problems keeping them on, look for sunglasses with a strap. Also, for those that love the water, they make UV goggles so you can protect your eyes while you swim!

For more resources and fun activities:

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