Protecting Eyes from the Sun
Last updated: October 2018
I have green eyes and have always felt sensitive to bright lights. Growing up in California always made me feel like I had to squint just to survive outside. Now I am not sure if the color of one's eyes make one more sensitive to sunlight or bright lights, but I do know that ocular melanoma is a real threat to many folks. I have been having issues with my left eye lately and have gone to the eye doctor twice and he says that I am good. I have what is called a "floater" and evidently this comes with age. The doc dilated my eyes twice in the past month and stared deeply into my eyes, so deep, in fact, that I thought he could see my soul.
Research from "Down Under"
So, what does the research say? An article from Australia offers some food for thought. A Brisbane research project found that people with freckles on their irises could be at a higher risk for melanoma. According to the research people with at least three pigmented lesions on the iris, which is the colored part of the eye, is associated with a 45% increased for melanoma. This link is quite strong for people under the age of 40. Researchers noted that they are actually called "iris freckles" and that some can have moles like you might find on the skin.
Regular eye exams
According to Professor Rick Sturm from the University of Queensland, "It's very easy to look for iris pigmented lesions, and we hope that these findings will help doctors identify those people who may be at increased risk of melanoma and need a skin check."1 I asked my eye doctor about the possibility that my eye issue was related to melanoma and he said that his eye check would have shown any issues with melanoma. My thought is to have to your eyes checked regularly, not only for cataracts and new prescriptions but for melanoma, as well.
The Mayo Clinic has some recommendations to help us.
- Look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB rays
- Look for sunglasses that screen out at least 75% of visible light.2
According to the article, the color and degree of darkness sunglasses provide have nothing to do with their protective abilities. Look for wraparound sunglasses or close-fitting sunglasses with wide angles to protect your eyes from every angle. In addition some contact lenses offer a level of UV protection, but should be worn in conjunction with sunglasses. Additionally, these protective lenses have shown effectiveness against cataracts and macular degeneration.2
Learning from the solar eclipse
Last year the full eclipse was quite a phenomena. I had no idea that there were special lenses that could help you look at the eclipse safely. I had always been told to never look at the sun for even a short length of time. I saw some people wearing regular sunglasses and other wearing welder's masks and evidently, this was not protecting them. If those "eclipse" glasses show us anything (besides the eclipse), it's that there the technology is out there to protect our eyes from the sun.
Do you sunscreen in the fall?