July was American Academy of Ophthalmology’s (AAO) UV Safety Month. In Texas, where we’re ranked in the top ten for highest national UV indices, it is especially important to shield and protect our eyes from the sun. Sunlight is a combination of ultraviolet rays that can be potentially harmful with long-term exposure.
Most folks think to grab the sunblock, but it’s also necessary to shield your eyes from the sun to prevent sunburn that can potentially cause temporary blindness, according to AAO. UV rays can also reflect off of sand and water into the eyes, so protection at the beach is always recommended. UV-B rays are actually more likely penetrate the atmosphere on overcast days, so sun protection should be worn even on cloudy days.
Prolonged UV exposure has been linked to the acceleration of ocular conditions such as cataracts and pterygia; that’s why folks who spend a lot of time outdoors recreationally or working tend to develop these conditions more often and more quickly. Both of these conditions are treatable, but wearing sun protection can help prevent early onset.
Later this month the solar eclipse will be visible in DFW. It is extremely important that you take appropriate steps for you and your family to view this phenomenon safely. There are a lot of posts and links floating around for various gadgets and devices for eclipse watching. While it’s never advisable to stare directly at the sun, especially for extended periods of time, there are methods of viewing the eclipse that don’t involve direct exposure. Remember, just because the sun is blocked during an eclipse doesn’t means its rays aren’t reaching us.
NASA has a dedicated page with tips on safe viewing and a variety of activities, including DIY 2D and 3D pinhole projectors, that can make the upcoming eclipse fun for the whole family. You can also check out The American Astronomical Society's video on safe eclipse viewing here. AAS reminds us that safe “eclipse glasses” must be ISO-certified and cautions us against blindly googling or searching Amazon as many products that claim to be ISO- and CE-certified, were found to be counterfeit. If you’re considering eclipse glasses for yourself or your family, check out AAS’s reputable list of vendors here and NASA’s here.
At Cornea Associates we see a variety of ocular disease and dystrophy and we are very strong advocates for preparedness and protection. As they say, an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure. Make sure you and your family take all necessary steps to protect yourselves from the sun and keep every sun day a fun day.