Can My Eyes Get Sunburned?

  • By Germaine Shock
  • 05 May, 2017
May is healthy vision month - and as we draw nearer to the official first day of Summer, what better time to discuss one of the most commonly overlooked parts of eye health - UV protection. Most of you are probably fully aware of the negative effects UV rays can have on your skin, but did you know the sun can be just as damaging to your eyes?
Here are just a few of the ways your eyes can be affected:

  • UV Keratitis or Corneal Sunburn - Yes, you read that right, you can actually get a sunburn on your eyes! Excessive exposure to UV from the sun, tanning beds, welder’s flame, and certain halogen lamps can literally burn your cornea (the front clear surface of the eye) causing extremely painful symptoms that will need to be treated by your eye care physician.
  • Macular Degeneration - There have been studies connecting too much sunlight to an increased potential for developing Macular Degeneration - a disease that affects your macula and ultimately causes a decrease or complete loss of central vision. Check out our other post  here  for a full explanation of this sight stealing condition.
  • Cataracts - A cataract occurs when the eye's internal lens begins to cloud and yellow causing blurred vision and an increased sensitivity to glare. Cataracts are most commonly a natural result of aging and will start to form in everyone's eyes at some point after the age 55. However, long term sun exposure can speed up the formation of cataracts causing a need for surgery several years sooner than normal.
  • Pinguecula - A pinguecula is a deposit of fat, protein, or calcium that appears as a yellowish spot or bump on the conjunctiva (the clear covering over the white part of the eye). These growths are most commonly caused by dryness and an exposure to wind, dust, and UV rays.  
  • Pterygium - Also caused by wind, dust, and UV rays - a pterygium is a fleshy growth of tissue that sometimes starts as a pinguecula and can grow large enough to cover part of the cornea obstructing vision.
  • Snow Blindness - You aren’t only at risk for damage from UV rays in the summer. A form of UV keratitis or photokeratitis - snow blindness - occurs as a result of the light rays being reflected off of the bright white surface of the snow. This is fairly common in snowboarders and skiers. Much like a regular sunburn, the effects aren’t noticed until sometime after exposure making the symptoms particularly alarming since you might not make the connection between the two.
  • Skin Cancer - The skin on our eyelids and surrounding eye area is extremely thin and sensitive. These areas can be affected by cancers including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma makes up for about 90 percent of the cases of eyelid cancer which is of note because this type of cancer has a significant risk of spreading to the eye itself and causing blindness and disfigurement of the face.

What can you do about it?

  • First and foremost, make sure you wear sunglasses that specifically provide 100% UV protection to ensure that both UV-A and UV-B rays are blocked. This should be done even in the winter months. And don’t let those cloudy days fool you, the sun’s rays can still pass through.
  • Try to choose a wraparound style to keep the sun from entering from the sides of your sunglasses.
  • Always wear sunscreen when you will be doing anything outdoors that puts you in direct or indirect sunlight.  You should choose one that is at least 15 SPF or higher, and a nickel sized dollop should be used on the face alone according to the  Skin Cancer Foundation .
  • Do you use a tanning bed? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, studies have shown that tanning beds can expose you to UV levels of up to 100 times what you would normally get from the sun. If you insist on going this route for your bronze glow, at least be sure to wear eye protection.
  • This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised... Never look directly at the sun - including during a solar eclipse. This can lead to a condition known as solar retinopathy where the rays from the sun are concentrated onto your retina by your eye’s internal lens causing an burn. Think of this like the magnifying glass on the ant trick except the inside of your eye is the poor ant! This can cause permanent damage to your vision and even blindness.
  • Don’t forget about kiddos and older family members - everyone is at risk! 


´╗┐Stay tuned for our special Women's Week post coming this month!

Eye-Q

By Germaine Shock 01 Aug, 2017
By now most all of you have likely seen or are at least familiar with a solar eclipse. Without getting into too much of the scientific details, a solar eclipse happens when the moon moves between the sun and earth during its orbit causing a partial or complete blockage of our view of the sun. Although a solar eclipse only lasts for a few minutes, its thrilling impact will stay with you for much longer.
By Germaine Shock 20 Jul, 2017
School's out for summer! With a little extra free time and flexibility in your schedule, now is the perfect time to  bring your kiddos in for their eye health exams. Most parents will logically assume that since their child hasn’t had any complaints, they must not be having any problems - or that their child is simply too young to need an eye exam. Think again! 
By Germaine Shock 06 Jul, 2017
Sometimes when it comes to kiddos, you’ll find yourself navigating through some gray areas. For example, determining how much screen time is too much - or how old they should be to watch that scary movie. These definitive numbers are so hard to pinpoint simply because no two children are the same. They all mature at different rates, and we as parents have to adjust accordingly. Fortunately, here are a few tips to help in one of those gray areas -  figuring out if your child is ready for contact lenses.
By Germaine Shock 23 Jun, 2017
We have all made a questionable decision or two at least once in our lives. However, when it comes to your eyes and vision, this is one area where it is always better to be safe than sorry. Here are a few of the most common mistakes made by contact lens wearers and a safer alternative to keep those peepers healthy.
By Germaine Shock 14 Jun, 2017

More than likely if you are reading this, you’ve experienced the strange sensation of an eyelid twitch. It can happen anywhere, at any time, and almost always stops the moment you try to point it out to someone else (and of course resumes the second they turn away just to make you look extra crazy). Well you aren’t crazy - at least in this case - eyelid twitches are a real thing!

Myo-what?

Better known in professional lingo as “myokymia”, this twitching sensation is the result of involuntary, spontaneous, rippling muscle contractions. These spasms can actually occur in almost any of the muscles in your body. When relating to the eyelids, myokymia is most common in your lower lids but can happen in your top lids as well.

Eyelid myokymia is typically very temporary. The twitching will usually only last for a few minutes, but in some rare cases can last for a few days or even weeks.

Your doctor will likely advise you that there is no cause for concern as common Myokymia resolves on its own without the need for treatment. Other than causing mild annoyance, the eyelid twitching shouldn’t cause any long term complications or interference with your vision.
By Germaine Shock 01 Jun, 2017

Do your eyes ever feel dry and itchy? Do you ever experience eye fatigue, redness, blurred vision, or excessive watering? You could be suffering from dry eyes - especially if you live in Oklahoma City which ranks as the 17th driest city in the U.S. And despite the name, dry eye isn’t just an annoying feeling - it’s a legitimate chronic eye disease that affects an estimated 4.88 million Americans over the age of 50 alone. And since another estimated 89% of the population have never even heard of Dry Eye Syndrome, it’s easy to see why some would just write off those annoying symptoms as a normal part of their lives.

By Germaine Shock 16 May, 2017

In honor of Mother’s Day kicking off Women’s Week, the Eye- Q blog has decided to dedicate a post solely to women’s eye health related issues. So what makes women’s eye health so special? Women are actually more commonly affected than men by a number of ocular health issues including dryness, cataracts, age related macular degeneration, and complications from autoimmune disorders such as Sjogren's or lupus. Furthermore, according to Prevent Blindness America, 66% of people who are blind or visually impaired are women.

Let’s start with that statistic - why are women more at risk for eye complications than men?
By Germaine Shock 05 May, 2017
May is healthy vision month - and as we draw nearer to the official first day of Summer, what better time to discuss one of the most commonly overlooked parts of eye health - UV protection. Most of you are probably fully aware of the negative effects UV rays can have on your skin, but did you know the sun can be just as damaging to your eyes?
By Germaine Shock 25 Apr, 2017

No, it’s not a typo. Sjogren’s - pronounced show-grins - is a type of autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and damage to various parts of the body; most commonly the tear and saliva glands. This damage results in symptoms ranging from dryness and discomfort to difficulty swallowing and can even affect the lungs and kidneys.

So why exactly does this happen? Let’s start with a quick health lesson. The immune system is responsible for fighting disease and killing harmful viruses and bacteria. However, with autoimmune diseases, your immune system has a hard time knowing when to stop fighting and mistakenly attacks your own body. With Sjogren’s, your exocrine glands - the glands that secrete moisture such as saliva, sweat, tears, breast-milk, gastric mucous, etc - become the main targets.
By Germaine Shock 05 Apr, 2017

So it’s the weekend and the mild discomfort you were experiencing midweek has now escalated into full blown intense pain. Or maybe you were working on the yard and something flew into your eye? Or perhaps you were wearing your contact lenses for too long and your eye is now extremely red and unhappy. Who do you call? (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not Ghostbusters.) But seriously, should you go to the ER if you injure your eye in some way? The answer might surprise you.

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