Sun Rays and Retina
Sunlight is beneficial for a healthy life. Sunlight generates the production of Vitamin D, an essential nutrient your body needs to strengthen your bones, blood, and immune system as well as lowering blood pressure, aiding in sleep, and helping to fight off depression. Sunlight also helps to boost serotonin, a chemical in the brain that can help give you energy while keeping the body calm and focused. However, as with most things in life, everything in moderation. That includes limiting your exposure to UV light. Sun rays and retinas can be a potentially damaging combination.
Exposure to ultraviolet light can be dangerous to your eyes. UV light can heighten your risk for cataracts, cancer, growths on the eyes (such as pterygium), and eye conditions (such as photokeratitis) as well as permanent damage to the macula, cornea, and retina. Long term UV exposure can cause tissue elevations on the surface of the eye. UV rays can also increase the risk of macular degeneration. This leading cause of vision loss among people aged 60 and older involves the breaking down of the macula, which is the central portion of the retina.
Parents often caution their children about not staring into the sun with the warning that they could go blind. Turns out, when you stare directly at the sunlight or similar bright lights, UV rays flood into the retina, burning the exposed tissue. Although most short-term damage usually affects the cornea of the eyes and is known as solar keratosis, where symptoms of sensitivity and pain will be noticeable, a more serious condition of staring at the sun and its effects is known as solar retinopathy. With solar retinopathy, UV light burns a hole in the retinal tissue creating a blind spot, known as scotoma, in the central part of vision. Unlike the cornea, the retina does not have pain receptors so it may take several days until symptoms such as blurred vision and dark spots are noticeable. If you are concerned you have spent too much time looking at direct sunlight, contact an ophthalmologist to have your eyes tested to determine the extent of any damage and how best to treat the eyes to restore and preserve vision. When exposed to sunlight, take precaution by wearing sunglasses or eyewear with UVA and UVB light filters.
To be sure your eyes are healthy and you do not have undiagnosed damage to your retina from sun rays, contact Associated Retina Consultants for a comprehensive exam. Call 602-242-4928 or schedule online at WEBSITE.