While your patients are likely aware of the dangerous effects UVA and UVB rays can have on their skin, they often aren’t aware of how dangerous the sun is for the delicate tissues in their eyes. For many practitioners, this is the ideal season to educate patients of the potential damages the sun can cause and to encourage them to wear protective sunglasses year round.
As Prevent Blindness shares, damage to vision from UV rays can be avoided with proper eye wear. It’s essential to teach your patients that UV damage is cumulative and that preventing exposure is vital, especially if it’s not something they considered in the past. If there are no visible signs of damage thus far, using protection now may help prevent problems in the future.
To emphasize the seriousness of UV damage to eye health, it can be very helpful to share with your patients some of the conditions they might experience without proper protection. Since both types of UV light can affect different portions of the eye and its sensitive tissues, a wide array of problems can arise, including:
- — Photokeratitis – more easily understood as corneal sunburn. A painful condition caused by high exposure to the sun during activities, such as skiing or spending time at the beach. Photokeratitis can also cause temporary blindness.
- — Macular Degeneration
- — Pterygium – forms a growth on the eye which may eventually block the cornea or impair vision.
- — Cataracts
- — Cancer on the eyelids, or surrounding skin known as basal cell carcinoma.
Additionally, patients should be made aware of the serious, and often lethal, form of melanoma that can affect the eye. Although it’s fairly rare, ocular melanoma forms in the cells that form the skin’s coloring. The optomap® image below clearly shows an incidence of ocular melanoma in a patient. Early detection is critical due to the fast-spreading nature of this disease.
Optos would like to know how you plan to educate your patients on the potential damages of UVA and UVB rays on their eye health. Will you discuss the benefits of proper sun protection of their eyes? Please let us know in the comments below.