The Sun and Our Eyes

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Dr S S Gill, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S S Gill, Consultant Ophthalmologist

EYE HEALTH

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr. S. S. GILL talking to us about THE SUN AND OUR EYES

Many people are not aware of the dangers that ultraviolet (UV) light especially from the sun can pose. Harmful UV radiation from the sun can damage various parts of the eyes including conjunctiva, lens and also the retina (nerve). Long-term exposure to sunlight increases the risk of cataract formation and also pterygia (a growth on the surface of the eye).

In short, the sun that can burn our skin can also burn our eyes! In fact, staring at the sun can cause permanent burns (solar retinopathy) resulting in scarring of the retina which is the nerve behind the eye that is very important for good vision. It is important therefore to take adequate precautions to protect your eyes from too much UV rays. Here are some tips to protect your eyes from the sun:

SUNGLASSES:

Dr S.S. Gill, ultraviolet light and eyesGet a good pair of sunglasses that block off the harmful ultraviolet or UV rays.

The ability to block off UV light does not depend on how expensive are the sunglasses, or how dark the sunglass lenses are.

Brand does not matter! Of course looking like James Bond or Audrey Hepburn when wearing them is a bonus but it’s the quality of the glass that matters most.

Choose a pair of sunglasses that either has a CE mark, a label that says 100% UV protection from UVA and UVB rays, or has a UV400 tag.

Buy your sunglasses from a reputable retailer who is unlikely to sell you anything inferior.

Choosing a pair of sunglasses that wraps all around to the side of your face is preferable as it prevents strong sunlight from passing through the unprotected sides.

CLOUDS DON’T MATTER:

The sun’s rays can easily pass through thin clouds and even the haze that has affected Malaysia of late. Do not let such weather conditions fool you into thinking that you are safe from UV rays.

When you are outdoors in a country with cooler weather, it does not mean you are less exposed to UV light. You should still take similar precautions.

Be careful during peak times when the sun is strongest, between 10am and 2pm.

KIDS

Don’t forget the kids! Everyone is exposed to the same risk, including children and senior citizens. Protect their eyes too especially with hats or sunglasses. There are sunglasses made for children too.

WEAR A HAT

Broad brimmed hats, in addition to a good pair of sunglasses, work great together in protecting your eyes, not to mention make you look dashing!

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY

This can cause serious eye problems like solar retinopathy which can damage the retina (the nerve behind the eye). In fact, it can even lead to blindness.

Never view a solar eclipse directly through a camera, telescope, binoculars or photographic film or even sunglasses. This is very dangerous.

The safest way to view a solar eclipse is on the television, via live camera web-viewing on the internet

It’s never too late to begin protecting your eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Take all the necessary precautions to ensure that you do not succumb to eye problems that can be prevented.

For more information, contact Gill Eye Specialist Centre at  05-5455582, email: gilleyecentre@dr.com or visit www.fatimah.com.my.