With summer in full swing, it is the perfect time to go outdoors and enjoy the hot sunny weather. But, are you protecting yourself from potential risks? July is named as the Ultraviolet (UV) Safety month. Awareness must be raised on the importance of skin and eye protection from the harmful effects of UV rays. The goal is to permanently change habits and consider defending yourself from UV all year long.
UV light is a form of radiation energy mainly emitted by the sun. UV radiation wavelengths are from 10nm to 400nm, which is shorter than visible light. UV light is classified into 3 types, by wavelength: UVA, UVB and UVC. The ozone layer is a protective layer in Earth’s stratosphere that blocks all UVC light, while UVA and UVB still pass through it. UVA penetrates deeply into the skin, that causes wrinkling or leathering of the skin. UVB causes sunburns.
Excessive exposure to both UVA and UVB leads to development of skin and eye health problems:
Skin cancer – usually on the eye lids. Majority of the eye related skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas that rarely spread to the lymph nodes or beyond. They can grow large enough to cause disfigurement around eyes.
Macular degeneration – deterioration of the macula, the small central portion of the retina with the most concentrated number of cones and rods. This leads to a loss of sharp central vision.
Cataracts – opacity of cloudiness of the crystalline lens, which may prevent a clear image from forming on the retina. My blog post about cataracts can be accessed here.
Photokeratitis – a painful inflammation of the cornea or sunburned eyes
Solar retinopathy - where the UV literally burns a hole in the retina, specifically on the fovea of the macular, destroying rods and cones. A dazzling light sensation soon changes to a small blind spot in the central vision, usually with some permanent reduction in central vision caused by intense radiant energy absorbed in the retina and pigment epithelium.
Pinguecula – yellowish-brown subconjunctival elevation or growth composed of degenerated elastic tissue that may occur on either side of the cornea
Pterygium – abnormal wedge-shaped growth on the bulbar conjunctiva, which may gradually advance onto the cornea.
and much more.
It is time to be aware of the sun and its harmful UV rays. When we are young, we take a lot of things for granted. We always felt daring and fearless. Even if something happens, recovery is fast. What we do not know is that the body is just absorbing all the damage and as we age, the damages will be apparent to a point we wish we can undo it. It is never too late to love and protect yourself.