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Optical Health: The Sun & Your Eyes, Cohen's Fashion Optical July 2, 2012

Harlem, Manhattan
Optical Health: The Sun & Your Eyes, Cohen's Fashion Optical, Manhattan, New York

Everyone loves to bask in the sun's warm rays in the summer. Unfortunately, even the nicest sun tan may come with rather harmful rays from the sun that damage your eyes. Did you know that intense ultraviolet (UV) rays can leave you with sun damage sensitive cells in your eyes that can affect your vision?

According to the National Women's Health Resource Center, exposure to UV radiation over a long period of time can lead to a build up of sun damaged cells. This can also lead to increased chances of developing optical health problems, such as cataracts later in life. Yet these effects and more can be easily avoided by following the ABC's of achieving optimum eyecare health. There are three ranges of radiation you should look out for that can ultimately affect your optical health:

UV-C rays are the highest-energy of ultraviolet exposure and potentially could be the most harmful to your eyes and skin. UV-C radiation destroys the genetic structure of microorganisms and results in an inability to replicate, eventually causing their death. Luckily this form of germicidal radiation (UV-C) does not reach earth, due to the atmosphere's ozone layer which blocks these harmful rays. UVC rays have wavelengths of 100–280 nanometer (nm).

UV-B rays slightly longer wavelengths, which range from 280–315 on the nanometer and are lower in energy than UV-C rays. These rays are filtered partially by the ozone layer with some radiation still reaching the earth's surface. When taken in low doses, UV-B radiation stimulates the production of melanin (a skin pigment), causing the skin to darken, creating a suntan. But in higher doses, UV-B rays cause sunburn that increases the risk of skin cancer. This form of radiation is also closely linked with photokeratitis (sunburn of the cornea), cataracts, pterygium (a creamy, white build up on the surface of the eye), and squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva (a form of a cancerous tumor on the surface of the eye).

UV-A rays are generally closer to visible light rays and have lower energy than UV-B and UV-C rays. However, when you are unaware, UV-A rays can pass through the cornea and reach the lens and retina inside the eye. Overexposure to UV-A radiation can result in certain types of cataracts, which have damaging effects for most people ages 60 and older. Exposure to UV-A rays may also lead to age-related macular degeneration, (or loss of vision).

What you may not know is that although direct sunlight in summer weather is extremely damaging to your eyes, UV rays that are reflected by outside factors can be even more dangerous. Some great examples of this is the UV radiation that can occur due to factors such as dry sand, which absorbs 15 percent of UV rays and sea foam, absorbing nearly 25 percent. Because you are also more likely to look down than up, UV radiation reflected up from surfaces such as pavement, sand and water often have no barrier.

For the best protection, Cohen's Fashion Optical of Harlem recommends knowing how to choose the right pair of sunglasses.

  • Choose sunglasses that limit transmittion of UV radiation to no more than 1 percent UV-B and UV-A rays.
  • Find lenses that are large enough to cover the eye completely and have a close enough feel to prevent light from entering through the edge of your glasses.
  • Dark lenses are great for light sensitive people. Wrap-around glasses are also a good choice!
  • If you anticipate that you will be doing a lot of outdoor activities this summer, consider grabbing a pair of performance sunglasses or sport sunglasses.

While some sun damaging effects may take years to cause vision problems, short term problems such as photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis can also occur. This leads to inflammation of the membrane lining the eyelids. Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as "pink eye," can be caused after a long, hot day at the beach or spending time in the sun, exposing yourself to UV radiation.

No matter what the forecast, you should protect your eyes without having to compromise the classic styles and sophisticated looks. Cohen's Fashion Optical provides the most comprehensive analysis for eyecare and overall optical health. An optician can help you choose the best sunglass lenses for your needs, with quality customer service and a wall-to-wall selection of eyewear.

Ensure that your eyes are safe and completely protected for the summer. For more helpful advice on the best choices for eyecare, visit Cohen's Fashion Optical of Harlem.

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