World Sight Day 2022: How Sunlight Affects Our Eyes

Exposure to direct sunlight can cause damage to your eyes. Read what doctor has to say.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarUpdated at: Oct 13, 2022 11:22 IST
World Sight Day 2022: How Sunlight Affects Our Eyes

In a tropical country like India we are blessed with sunlight throughout the year. Whether it’s the scorching sun of the summer noon or the warm healing one of the winter mornings, it does have some effect on our eyes. Daily exposure to sunlight has been found to be beneficial in regulating our daily circadian rhythms and it also has some role in preventing nearsightedness in children. Despite all the benefits, excess sunlight exposure can be detrimental to the health of our eyes. So here are a few eye disorders to look out for that Dr. Rajiv Mirchia, Head - Clinical Services, Mirchia’s Laser Eye Clinic, Chandigarh - A Unit of Dr Agarwal's Eye Hospital, has pointed out.

Cataract

It is the name given to any type of opacification of the natural lens of the eye. It is postulated that the UV rays present in the sunlight contribute to this opacification. These changes are very slow and the cumulative damage keeps on adding up throughout one’s adolescent and adult life.

Also Read: All About Cataract Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Abnormal growth of ocular tissues

How Sunlight Affects Our Eyes

This presents in the form of a Pterygium- a fleshy wing-like growth arising from the conjunctiva (white part of the eye) and coming on to the cornea (black part of the eye). Small sized pterygia are harmless but the larger ones may decrease the eyesight or may cause a change in the power of prescription glasses. Avoiding direct sunlight can control the growth of the pterygia but surgical intervention may be needed in some patients.

Eye cancers

Although not very common in the Indian race, sun exposure can lead to certain types of eye cancers, which may be life/sight threatening if left unchecked.

Also Read: Know About 5 Winter Eye Problems That Are Common In The Cold Season

Snow blindness

Also known as photokeratitis, it can happen in patients with prolonged exposure to sunlight reflected off snow or large water-bodies. The large amount of UV rays in the reflected light can damage the outer surface of the cornea and can present with photophobia, watering, pain, foreign body sensation, and visual disturbances. It can also be caused by looking directly at the eclipsed or non eclipsed sun without any protective eye-wear. A very severe form of this is solar retinopathy wherein, the retina (inner sensory layer of the eye) can be permanently damaged, resulting in permanent decrease in visual acuity (eye sight).

Also Read: Eye Problems That You Can Get If You Overexpose Your Eyes To Sunlight

How to prevent eye damage due to sunlight?

In the spectrum of sunlight, it is the UV-B part that is responsible for most of the adverse effects associated with sunlight exposure. We can take some protective measures to ensure that our eyes stay safe.

Sunlight Affects Eyes

  • Do not look directly into the sun. Doing that even for a few seconds may lead to permanent damage.
  • Wear sunglasses when going in the sun. Be aware that cloud cover does not offer any protection against UV rays.
  • Not all sunglasses are made the same so choose your pair wisely. The key thing to look for is that lenses should offer 99 percent UV protection. Brands usually claim ‘protection upto 400 nm’.
  • Polarised glasses may not offer UV protection so specifically ask about it while purchasing your next pair.
  • Kids should wear a cap/hat when going out in the sun.
  • If you are travelling to snow covered areas or if you are involved in winter-sports like skiing, or water-sports like rowing, canoeing etc., make sure you have the appropriate eye-wear.

So, this season, don’t let that sunlight hit you the wrong way! Protect yours and your loved ones’ eyes.

Image credits- freepik

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