In a recent interview, former tennis player Chris Evert spoke about the eye problems some players get from prolonged exposure to the sun. Cataracts and eye cancers are extremely serious diseases that progress over time.
Long Term Sun Exposure Harms Your Eyes
Cataracts require surgical removal, and eye cancers not only threaten the eye, but they may also may be life threatening.
In addition to these diagnoses, growths on the surface of the eye, such as pterygium, can develop.
A pterygium is a raised, wedge-shaped growth of the conjunctiva (the membrane that covers the front of the eye) that extends into the cornea (the outer layer of the eye). They can cause:
- A feeling of something in the eye
- Decreased and/or distorted vision
These growths, which are also caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, need to be removed by an Ophthalmologist (Eye MD).
The Dangers of Sun Gazing
While these issues occur from longer term sun exposure, singer and actress Keke Palmer recently urged fans to protect their eyes from a more immediate threat. It seems that she engaged in the very dangerous practice of sun gazing, a meditative practice where a person stares directly at the sun.
Solar Retinopathy Symptoms
Ophthalmologists warn that looking directly at the sun can cause solar retinopathy. This condition can bring about mild symptoms, such as:
- Watering eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Eye pain
It can also cause more serious consequences, including:
- Blurry vision
- Decreased color vision
- Distorted vision
- Blind spots
- Dim vision
- And even blindness
Protecting Your Eyes from Sun Exposure
There are several ways to protect the eyes from the sun and harmful UV rays:
- Wear proper UVA and UVB blocking sunglasses.
- Use a hat (even on snowy or cloudy days).
- Never look directly at the sun.
- Avoid the use of tanning beds.
If you’re located in Central New Jersey and you’re concerned you may have damaged your eyes due to sun exposure, contact our office for an appointment. We’ll help you assess the damage and determine your treatment options.