February is low vision awareness month. In Texas we are blessed with many bright sunny days resulting in much exposure to UV rays. Did you know that exposure to UV rays can cause many eye problems and lead to low vision and blindness?
In December 2014 Anderson Cooper while reporting the news for CNN on a boat trip in Portugal temporarily went blind. He was not wearing sunglasses. Anderson Cooper sunburned his eyeballs, from exposure to the sun above and below, with the reflection off the water. His temporary blindness is known as keratitis, which occurs when the outermost layer of the eye becomes inflamed.
UV damage to the eyes can be immediate and cumulative. Therefore it is imperative that we learn how to protect our eyes and our sight for today.
What does low vision mean?
Low vision is a term used by professionals to describe partial sight which cannot be fully corrected by surgery, medications, contact lenses, or glasses. People who have low vision experience difficulties in their ability to perform everyday activities, such as reading, writing, watching television and driving.
What are some of the eye problems that UV rays cause?
UV rays can cause some of the following eye problems:
- Cataracts which are a clouding of the eye’s lens which prevents a clear image from being produced. The clouding of the lens results in blurred images.
- Corneal Sunburn occurs when spending long hours at the beach or skiing without proper eye protection. This is what Anderson Cooper experienced and it can cause temporary vision loss and be very painful.
- Macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults and can be caused by exposure to UV rays.
- Pterygium (surfer’s eye), is a growth that begins on the white of the eye which may eventually block vision. Damage involves the cornea and is more common in people who work or spend extended periods of time outside.
- Skin cancers around the eye including the upper and lower eyelid are linked to prolonged exposure to UV rays.
What are some tips to protect your eyes from UV Rays:
Whenever you are headed outdoors, it is recommended for children and adults that you wear proper UV-rated sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat or cap. Wraparound sunglasses provide the best protection for your eyeballs as well as the surrounding skin.
Regular eye examinations by a doctor are highly recommended to help protect us from vision loss.
Eating the appropriate eye nutrients like leafy green vegetables to prevent macular degeneration, regular exercise, and quit smoking.
Remember only you can prevent vision loss by protecting your eyes from the sun and damaging ultraviolet rays.
Want to find out more?
Anderson Cooper Temporarily Blinded
National Eye Institute
February is National AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month
Eye Health & Safety
Helen Trowsdale, President of AA Care Services, is a nurse administrator with over 30 years of experience as a BSN, psychiatric nurse, and geriatric care manager with adults as well as pediatrics in hospitals, private duty home health care agencies, and residential home health care. Her team of caregivers are dedicated to serving their clients with home care in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Austin; providing clients with consistent, quality care while minimizing the number of caregivers in the home. Learn more about AA Care Services.