Highlight: What can I do to protect my eyes outdoors?

Light from the sun & light from artificial sources can be good for us but also bad for us.  It’s important to know the difference.

Sunlight contains 3 components: infrared, visible & non-visible light which is called the light spectrum. The non-visible light is called ultraviolet (UV) light which is broken down into UVA, UVB and UVC zones.   UV light can cause damage to our eyes, particularly the cornea and the lens. The cumulative effect of UV exposure can contribute to cataracts as well as other eye disorders of the front of the eye.

In the visible light part of the spectrum, blue light reaches back to the retina.  The cumulative effect of blue light exposure has been linked to development and progression of AMD.

Non-visible (ultraviolet-UV) light & visible light
Non-visible (ultraviolet-UV) light & visible light

 

UV light can negatively affect the cornea and lens. Blue light can negatively affect the retina.
UV light can negatively affect the cornea and lens. Blue light can negatively affect the retina.

Click here for a detailed explanation including how light affects our skin & eyes.

 

 

Here’s a diagram showing the parts of the eye that can be negatively affected by different parts of the spectrum.

 

 

Light is also necessary for various functions which is why we don’t want to filter out all of the light:

  • It helps us to see better.
  • It helps us with our visual acuity including ability to deal with contrast.
  • It helps us perceive colors.
  • It helps with various non-visual functions of the body including our sleep/wake cycle which helps us to maintain & use memory, mood and hormonal balance.

Click here for a more detailed explanation of the various components of light.

Click here for an article about blue light and its effect on our sleep/wake cycle.

The key to preventing & stabilizing AMD is to allow our eyes to receive the beneficial rays of the sun while filtering out the harmful rays.  We can do this by using sunglasses outdoors and proper lighting indoors.

Outdoors: Wear sunglasses to filter out harmful rays of the sun

Protect your eyes outside by wearing a hat or visor even on cloudy days. Always wear good quality sunglasses that have the following characteristics:

  • Type of lenses: ones that filter out 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays.  UVC rays are the most dangerous but luckily our ozone layer filters out most of it (this is why it is so important to protect our ozone layer).
  • Look for the ‘blue blocker’ feature which filters out the blue light from the spectrum. Not all sunglasses labeled as such block out the same amount of blue light– Look for a %.  It’s not enough to have an amber or orange tint.
  • As far as which sunglasses are best for you, it can be complicated to find a pair that blocks out not only a high % of blue light but also UVA and UVB light.  Ask your eye doctor/doctors and optician what is best for you.  Some have light meters that can tell you how well your current pair are doing regarding these features.
  • Types of sunglasses: clip-on, regular, ones you can wear over eyeglasses.
  • Make sure they have side panels and top & bottom panels over the top to keep light from coming in around the sunglasses.
  • Search results amazon.com ‘sunglasses filter out blue light’, notice that not all designs have panels all around to keep light from coming in.
  • Great article with things to look for in sunglasses including not only UV & blue light protection, but also glare, glare, visibility and enhanced contrast.
  • This site says that they will give you a free pair of Cocoon sunglasses for participating  in their study. I know people who have participated in this and received the free sunglasses.

Click here for more detailed recommendations about protecting your eyes and skin based on how long you are in the sunlight.  See the section ‘UV Protection Recommendations’.

Coming soon!

Indoors: Filter out harmful rays while providing enough light for tasks

Not only do we need to know about the types of bulbs & lamps that are available but also what we can do to protect our eyes from harmful light that comes from devices we use every day such as computers, tablets, cell phones, etc.

 

 

 

 

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