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Can Retina Damage Be Linked to Ultraviolet Rays?

Ultraviolet (UV) light can harm your vision and age the structures of the eye. Everyone is at risk for eye damage due to UV radiation exposure. Those who work or play in the sun or are exposed to the sun for extended amounts of time are at the highest risk for damage to their eyes or vision from ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet rays can cause several eye issues including cataracts, corneal sunburn, pterygium, photokeratitis and skin cancer around the eyelids. Macular degeneration is another condition brought on by exposure to UV radiation. Macular degeneration (AMD) is caused by damage to the retina over time and is the leading cause of age-related blindness. Extended exposure to UV light increases your risk of developing macular degeneration. As the macula, the center part of the retina, is damaged, the central part of vision will be affected. Drusen (protein deposits) collect on the retina and starve it of oxygen. New blood vessels then begin to enter the retina to supply needed oxygen, further damaging the retina. Therefore, there is evidence that retina damage can be linked to ultraviolet rays.

To help prevent retina damage that is linked to ultraviolet rays, patients are encouraged to wear sunglasses to protect against UVA and UVB rays. UVA radiation has a longer wavelength that harms central vision and damages the retina. UVB radiation has a shorter wavelength that can damage the front part of the eye, specifically the cornea and lens, harming the clear surface area of the eye. Your sunglasses should have the following criteria: blocks at least 99% of UVA and UVB rays, screen between 75-90% of visible light, have lenses without distortions that would refract light into the eyes, and have the same color, gray recommended, throughout the lenses.

Managing your UV exposure is important to the care of your eyes. UV rays come from the sun but also reflect off other surfaces such as water, snow and sand. They are generally at their highest and most dangerous levels during peak sun hours, usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. While sunlight does have many health benefits, including the skin’s absorption of Vitamin D, there are risks, including retinal damage, linked to ultraviolet rays. Caution is key.

If you are concerned UV exposure has impacted your eyes, contact Associated Retina Consultants to set up an eye exam to check the health and structure of your eyes. Book your appointment online at WEBSITE or call 602-242-4928. 

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