The burning sun
14th June 2017
The peak daily ultraviolet radiation level changes over the year, the strongest being at the time of the Summer Solstice (21st June) which is rapidly approaching. Short-term exposure to UV can lead to photophobia – visual discomfort and sensitivity to bright light or photokeratitis, a sunburn-like condition that can last 48 hours or so. However, cumulative exposure to UV can lead to permanent sight loss – it is one of the main risk factors of age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of sight loss in the UK) and cataracts, a clouding of the eyes lens, which affects one in three people aged over 65 years. Other potential eye health problems related to UV exposure include pterygium – a growth on the white of the eye, which encroaches onto the cornea and can obscure your vision. Repeated exposure to sunlight can also increase your risk of cancer of the eyelid and the skin surrounding the eye.
David Cartwright, Chairman of Eye Health UK, comments: “We should all be aware of the harm UV can do to our eye health. Popping on a pair of sunglasses when slapping on the sunscreen is a habit that would benefit us all and prevent future avoidable sight loss.
David continues: “Ideally all children – and adults – should wear good quality sunglasses and a peaked hat when spending any time outdoors. It’s especially important for parents to safeguard their children’s eyes when they are playing on the beach or by water where there is a lot of reflected light.”