A Care UK ophthalmology consultant is warning people to put on their sunglasses as the weather improves, or risk potentially sight-threatening eye conditions.
Teresa Anthony, a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Emersons Green NHS Treatment Centre, is warning of the dangers caused to eyes and eyelids by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.
She said: “Conditions caused or aggravated by UV exposure include cataracts (a clouding of the lens in the eye that makes the person’s vision blurred) and age-related macular degeneration that can rob people of their central vision.
“Extended exposure can also cause damage to the eye’s surface and sometimes this can become malignant, leading to surgery and occasionally loss of vision.
“As a nation, we have become significantly better at understanding damage done to our skin by the sun. What people tend to forget is that the skin of the eyelids, particularly in the corner of the eye, is very thin and more susceptible to damage caused by UV rays.
“UV damage to the eyelids can cause rodent ulcers. These are sun-related skin tumours, which burrow locally. Although they do not spread to other parts of the body, they can lead to the loss of an eyelid, which may lead to difficult reconstructive surgery.
“The good news is that the risk to your eyes can be greatly reduced with a few sensible precautions.”
Teresa’s top tips
- Only buy sunglasses that provide 100 per cent UV protection and carry the British Standard [BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013] or CE mark;
- Make sure they are large enough to cover your whole eye area. Wrap-arounds are the best, or those that look like they would have been worn by a 1950s movie star;
- Ensure the lenses are dark enough to give protection. If you aren’t squinting you will also have fewer crows’ feet;
- Apply sun screen lotion to eyelids and more importantly the area between the inner corner of the eye and the nose. This is often missed, making it more susceptible to skin cancers. Make sure you cover everywhere;
- Wear a hat. A large-brimmed hat or baseball cap will ensure UV rays cannot sneak around the lenses of your glasses.