KT For Good: Keep an eye on your sunglasses

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On part 7 of the #Besummersafe campaign, we tell you what to keep in mind while choosing the sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Why do we need to protect our eyes from excessive and harmful sunlight?

According to Dr Shaunak Chaudhary, optometrist at NMC Specialty Hospital, Abu Dhabi, when our eyes are exposed to excessive amounts of ultraviolet (UV) radiation over a short period of time, we are likely to experience an effect called photokeratitis.

"Photokeratitis is a highly painful - but usually temporary - burn to the cornea. This happens when we are in a location with a lot of reflected sunlight such as the beach or snowy regions. This can lead to blurred vision, light sensitivity and even temporary blindness," explained Dr Sivakami A Pai, specialist ophthalmologist/vitreo-retinal surgeon at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai.

This sunburn of the eye is painful and often includes uncomfortable symptoms like extreme sensitivity to light, excessive tearing and a gritty sensation in the eyes.

Needless to say, photokeratitis is not fun but it can easily be avoided with proper eye protection.

Dr Chaudhary said the best way to protect eyes from harmful UV radiation is to wear sunglasses that block 100 per cent UV whenever we are outdoors in broad daylight.

"Also, our eyes need protection even on cloudy days because the sun's damaging UV rays can penetrate cloud cover," she added.

UV radiation is a type of light that is invisible to the human eye, and part of the spectrum that reaches us from the sun. UV light is the most common cause of radiation injury to the eye.

"Excessive exposure to UV rays can result in the front surface of the eye becoming damaged, much like sunburn on the skin. Without proper precautions, these rays can also have harmful cumulative effects that may develop over time," explained Dr Chaudhary.

She added: "Cataracts, a cloudiness of the lenses inside the eyes, are a major cause of visual impairment and blindness worldwide. While cataracts develop over a long period of time, research has shown that exposure to UV rays can put one at risk for this condition."

Similarly, scientists have tied exposure to UV rays to the onset of macular degeneration, a common eye condition that causes damage to the retina and leads to vision loss, usually in people 50 and older.

Therefore, we should not take chances with our vision. We must be proactive and protect our eyes from harmful UV rays.

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Angel Tesorero

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