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How the Sun Affects Eye Health

By David Gross on January 30, 2015


Young couple enjoying a day out in the sunIn moderate doses, the sun has many beneficial effects on overall body health. Studies also show that children who spend a portion of their day outdoors in the sun may actually decrease their chances of developing nearsightedness. However, while the sun certainly has its benefits, there are potentially dangerous side effects of too much sun exposure. While many people are aware of the association between unprotected sun exposure and skin cancer, some may not be aware that the eyes are also at risk when exposed to too much sun light. At Deen-Gross Eye Centers, we offer comprehensive eye care services, including regular eye exams, to diagnose any potential eye health problems and provide treatment for any conditions that do develop so that our Merrillville patients don’t suffer long-term consequences of the effect of the sun on the eyes.

The Eyes and Sun Exposure

The reason that the sun has the potential to cause damaging effects to the skin and eyes is because it gives off UV (ultraviolet) radiation. These UV rays can have what is described as a “burning” effect on the eyes. If the eyes are exposed to an excessive amount of UV rays over a short period of time, it may produce a result that is similar to that of a sunburn on the skin. This condition, which is known as photokeratitis, may result in side effects such as red eyes, a dry, gritty sensation, and increased sensitivity to light. This is a temporary condition that should not have long-term effects on the health of the eyes. Unfortunately, there are damaging eye diseases that may develop as a result of excessive UV exposure over a prolonged period of time. Those whose eyes are regularly exposed to the sun have been shown more likely to develop eye health problems, which include the following:

  • Cataracts
  • Macular degeneration
  • Eye growths
  • Eye cancer

Protecting the Eyes from the Sun

Being outdoors is part of a healthy and active lifestyle, so we do not recommend that people avoid the sun altogether. However, it is important to ensure that the eyes are protected when they are outdoors, even if it does not seem like a particularly sunny day. Below are some helpful tips for keeping the eyes protected against the dangerous effects of UV rays:

  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses when outside (even if there is heavy cloud coverage)
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats to protect the eyes from the sun
  • Avoid looking directly at the sun
  • Make sure that people of all ages are protected against the sun, this includes young children and seniors
  • Maintain a routine of regular eye exams so that eye health can be continually monitored

Contact Us

At Deen-Gross Eye Centers, we have a team of experienced and caring eye doctors who offer a comprehensive range of eye care services to help ensure that the health of your eyes is well-maintained. If you are due for a regular eye exam or have areas of concern that you’d like to have addressed, contact us at your earliest convenience to set up an appointment with one of our skilled eye doctors. We look forward to hearing from you!

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"After wearing glasses my entire life, Dr. Gross corrected my eyesight to better than 20/20 vision."

Richard B - St. John, IN

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