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Q&A about Sun Protection

Ever Wonder if you are doing enough to protect your eyes from sunlight? Then read our Q&A with Dr Tomaini of Kincardine  Family Eye Care.

Q: What exactly are “ultraviolet rays”?
A: Ultraviolet (UV) light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light but longer than X-rays, that is, in the range between approximately 400 nm and 10 nm.
 
Q: How can people protect themselves from the sun’s UV rays?
A: Simply staying in the shade is one of the best ways to limit your UV exposure.
    Otherwise:
·         Protect your skin with clothing
·         Wear a wide brimmed hat
·         Apply sunscreen generously and often
·         Where sunglasses!
 
Q: Are sunglasses an important part of a sun protection plan?
A: Wraparound sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them are extremely important, especially in the early years of life (20 and under)
 
Q: What type of sunglasses best protect from UV rays?
A: Not only should the UV entering the eye be blocked but people need to realize that the skin around the eyes is very sensitive to sun exposure. A sunglass frame that fits very close to the face is essential in preventing UV rays from entering above or to the side of the frame, especially if you are not wearing a hat.
    When you're choosing sunglasses, look for UV-protection details on product labels. Choose sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses should be labeled UV 400.
 
Q: I have heard about blue light being a concern as well.  Can you talk a little bit about this and what it means for protecting your eyes? 
A:  UVA (320-400nm) is that part of the invisible spectrum of particular concern to eye care professionals. It is the most damaging of UV radiation and it is the radiation transmitted to the crystalline lens of the human eye. The Schepens Eye Institute reports that "the blue rays of the spectrum seem to accelerate AMD (age-related macular degeneration) more than other rays of the spectrum."
     Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown. Circadian rhythms and the ability to sleep can be affected.
 
What you can do
  • Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.
Q: I’ve heard of getting my skin sunburned, but can your eyes also get sunburned?
A: Photokeratitis or ultraviolet keratitis is a painful eye condition caused by exposure of insufficiently protected eyes to the ultraviolet (UV) rays from either natural or artificial sources. Photokeratitis is akin to sunburn of the cornea and conjunctiva, and is not usually noticed until several hours after exposure. Symptoms include increased tears and a feeling of pain, likened to having sand in the eyes. I f you experience such symptoms, consult your eye doctor.
 
Q: Do darker sunglasses mean better sun protection?
A: No. The UV protection offered by a lens is independent of the darkness of the tint. Tint is a personal preference and certain colours and degrees of darkness may be suitable depending on the visual task being performed.
 
Q: Does having a prescription make it harder to get the right sunglasses?
A: Fortunately today eyewear manufacturers are paying a lot more attention to the needs of prescription eyeglass wearers. This has been a segment of the population that has been long ignored but now there is no end to the options available. There may be some limits in frame style if you wear a particularly high prescription (lens diameter or amount of wrap).