Sunglasses, besides its accessory function, create a barrier against the multiple health problems derived from the sunlight. Some of the consequences of not using the appropriate sunlight protection are:
Macular degeneration. The retina which is a light-sensitive is the eye coat and it is the inner tissue of the eye. The macula is the part of the eye used to front and detailed vision, or in other words, a huge percentage of the vision relies on this part of the retina. Both the excessive sun exposure and the passage of time could damage the macula and as a result, creating blurred vision or blind spots. The cornea is the inner tissue and the most exposed to ultraviolet radiation and some studies and researches indicate that there is a relation between the UV radiation and the macular degeneration.
Cataract. Behind the iris (the circle that colours the eyes) is the crystalline lens. This organ allows the eyes to focus. For that reason and without noticing, we can see objects clearly either short distances or from miles away. The UV radiation is directly implied in the development of some types of cataracts, a disease that provokes that the crystalline lens as well as the vision become blurred. The use of sunglasses with UV protection highly reduce the risk of suffering future cataracts.
Damages in the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the protective membrane which covers the external part of the eye and the interior of the eyelid. The excessive sun exposure could cause a disease called pinguecula which consists on the appearance of little yellow spots near the cornea. Although this disease does not affect the vision, this zone could become irritated and inflamed. Besides, the conjunctiva could be inflamed so much that it could superimpose the cornea and leading to difficulties in vision. This is called pterygium or ‘surfer’s eye’.
Conjunctivitis, or the inflammation of the conjunctiva, could also be due to foreign objects that are trapped in the eye or by contact with any irritating substance (like the excess of chlorine in the swimming pools). In these cases, an excessive sun exposure aggravates the irritation and the inflammation.
Sunburn of the cornea (Keratitis). The cornea is the transparent tissue that covers the iris. A sunburn in the tissue could be provoked when too much ultraviolet radiation is received through the cornea. This situation happens when looking directly at the sun or to some reflective elements and even in environments placed at high altitude. Depending on the kind of damage suffered, it could generate some discomforts such as if a sand grain is in the eye. But these discomforts could become very painful and therefore, it will be necessary a specific treatment.
Signs of ageing around the skin of the eyes. The eyelids and the skin just beneath the eyes consist of very thick and delicate tissues that need a special care and protection. The repeated sun exposure to ultraviolet radiation, over time, could provoke the appearance of wrinkles and skin spots. Furthermore, we tend to half-close the eyes in order to avoid the excess of light when we do not wear sunglasses, and this favours the appearance of wrinkles. Skin cancer may appear in this zone.
Photosensitivity. This ocular discomfort is quite frequent (88% percent of the population is sensitive to sunlight) and it happens when there is too much light. It is usually caused due to a previous ocular problem or by some medicines (there are more than 125 medicines that increment the sensibility to light). The photosensitivity is not a disease, with the exception of some cases that the body responds overreacting to light.
Scientific studies on the field suggests that people with light-coloured eyes (blue, green) are more susceptible to suffer damages in the conjunctiva than people with brown eyes. Even though the motive for this to happen is still unknown, it is an additional reason for people with light-coloured eyes to wear sunglasses.
Moreover, there are other serious illness which are directly associated with the exposure to ultraviolet radiation like different types of cancers.
For all these reasons, it is important to protect your eyes using good quality and approved sunglasses , with total UV protection. In this article we explain why there are options to protect your sight, even if you need eyeglasses.