June 26, 2019

Why It’s Important to Protect Your Eyes

Most people know that they need to protect their skin from the sun. Unfortunately, far too many people forget the importance of eye protection as well. Of course, you can’t put sunscreen on your eyes, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some proven ways to give your eyes a bit more protection. It can actually be very easy to protect your eyes, but it’s often something that most people rarely give any thought to. Harmful UV-A and UV-B rays can cause a variety of eye problems, from damaged central vision and retinal deterioration to long-term cornea wear. If you put your sunscreen on and then head outside without a thought of the damage that you might be causing to your eyes, here’s what you need to know.

Issues Caused by UV Rays

UV rays can cause a lot of eye problems. If your only concern when going outside into the sun is causing wrinkles due to squinting, you might be surprised by how much those UV rays might be causing damage. The main problems that can be caused by UV rays include:

  • Cataracts: This is when your eye lens becomes clouded, and can cause serious problems in terms of vision.
  • Pterygium: This is a growth that is usually found on the white of your eye. Sometimes, a Pterygium will grow on the cornea. In both cases, you will suffer from varying degrees of vision loss.
  • Skin Cancer: It’s not just your eyeball itself, but the skin around your eyes is vulnerable to UV rays. Cancer on the eyelids is considered to be an eye problem due to the care needed in treatment.
  • Sunburn: That’s right, your eyes can get sunburned too. Medically, it’s called photokeratitis, but it’s sunburn on the cornea, and it can be very painful and can cause temporary loss of vision.
  • Macular Degeneration: The macula is the central part of your cornea. UV rays can cause serious wear and tear on your macula, and over time can lead to partial or total vision loss. This is a very common condition among older people.

While these are some of the most common eye problem issues that you will want to avoid, there are some additional conditions that you will also need to be aware of. Looking after your eyes is vital for your quality of life, and failing to protect your vision can have some serious long-term consequences.

Glaucoma

Not all eye problems are caused by UV rays. Glaucoma is a very common condition that can result in blindness because it causes serious damage to the optic nerve. This is the part of your eye that transmits information to the brain, so any damage caused to it can be very serious indeed. One of the biggest problems with glaucoma is that it comes with a variety of seemingly non-serious warning signs. Usually, the only time that it will be detected is when you have a full eye exam.

If you start to develop glaucoma, by the time you know what it is, the damage has already been done. Peripheral vision goes first, but blindness is often the end result. There’s only one way to protect yourself against glaucoma, and that’s to have regular eye exams. Optometrists have been trained to recognize the signs of glaucoma, and can make sure that you get the treatment you need to slow down the condition and prevent further vision loss.

Diabetic Retinopathy

People with diabetes know how much they need to manage their condition. Failing to do so can have catastrophic results. One of the lesser-known problems that can be caused by diabetes mismanagement is diabetic retinopathy. The problem is that diabetes can slowly cause damage to your retina, and that can lead to varying degrees of vision loss. This is why people with diabetes especially need to book in for regular eye exams. A trained optometrist will be able to spot the warning signs and advise you on treatment options. The most common symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Glare sensitivity
  • Problems with balance
  • Having more problems seeing at night

The problem is that these symptoms can sometimes be easy to miss. Failing to detect diabetic retinopathy can lead to severe vision problems if untreated, so protecting your eyes and booking in for regular eye exams is essential for people with diabetes.

Vision Conditions: What to Watch Out For

If you want to avoid the common and not so common eye conditions that nobody is safe from, you should be aware of the symptoms. While regular eye exams are vital for the future of your vision, you should book an emergency appointment with your optometrist if you notice any of the following:

  • Eye pain: This is an emergency situation, and you should get treatment immediately.
  • Partial/Total loss of vision: If this occurs in one or both eyes, even if temporarily, you should book an appointment with your optometrist as early as possible. Let them know why you are booking an appointment, and they will prioritize your eye exam.
  • Double Vision: This can be a sign that one of your eyes is weaker than the other. While double vision in itself can be frustrating, it could also be a symptom of astigmatism, cataracts, or a condition called keratoconus. Double vision will affect your ability to drive, and if you suffer from it on a regular basis, then you will need to inform the DMV.
  • Blind Spots: If you notice that there are parts of your vision that have deteriorated, then it’s vital that you see an optometrist as quickly as possible. This includes if you have symptoms like seeing halos around lights, or there are areas of your vision that are distorted. These can be a sign of a variety of conditions, such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, or inflammation of the optic nerve.
  • Injuries: If you get hit in the face by an object, and the impact occurs either on the eye itself or to the bone that surrounds your eye, then medical treatment is a priority.

Trauma to the eye and the area around it can result in traumatic iritis, and this type of swelling can be very painful. You may even suffer from a loss of vision if you fail to get the right treatment.

If you suffer from any of these issues, even if they are temporary, it’s important that you see an eye care professional as early as possible. The earlier that you get treatment, the easier it will be to limit your vision loss and reduce the potential for further deterioration of your sight. No matter your age, having an awareness of the threats to your vision can make it easier to identify when there might be an issue. Avoid direct sunlight, watch your diet, and make sure that you book appointments with your optometrist on a regular basis. The more aware you are of the risks, the more likely that you can prevent long term issues that will result in a loss of vision.

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