Everyone knows that the ozone is disappearing, but do you know how important that invisible umbrella is in your eye health? As the ozone is gradually depleted, we lose our natural protection from ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet rays, or UV rays, are absorbed by the lens of the eye and can result in the formation of damaging chemicals called free radicals. These dangerous compounds can lead to many health problems such as premature aging, skin cancer and cataracts.
Cataracts, a worldwide problem
Years of exposure to UV rays cause the protein in the lens of the eye to clump and thicken, preventing light from passing through it. This clouding and thickening of the lens is known as a cataract, and it is the leading cause of vision loss in the world. One in every six Americans over the age of 40 has a developing cataract, so for many of us it is a simple matter of time before cataracts begin affecting our vision. By the time we are 70, over half of all Americans will have a cataract.
How do UV rays affect cataracts?
UV rays can damage our vision every day, deteriorating the lenses of our eyes. Too much time in the sun can speed cataract development, so it is important to limit your time in direct sunlight. Not wearing proper eye protection is another culprit, so keep in mind that sunglasses are equally important in the winter as well as the summer. Daily choices that you make can protect your precious eyesight. Hats, wraparound sunglasses and lenses that offer 100 percent UVA and UVB protection can help prevent, or at least delay, cataract formation.
The importance of comprehensive eye exams
Many adults are completely unaware that they have a developing cataract, and it often takes a visit to an eye care professional to discover that a cataract is forming. This is especially concerning when so many individuals are not current with their comprehensive eye exams. Although cataracts are treatable, cataracts can cause blindness if they are not removed.
A comprehensive eye exam is the best way to prevent, diagnose and treat cataracts. If you cannot remember the last time you had a complete eye examination, it’s been too long. Most adults should have a dilated eye exam every 1 to 2 years. Let us give you a hand by connecting you to one of our qualified eye care professionals. Just click on our physician locator tool, and you’ll be on your way to healthier eyes!