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It's All In The Eyes

Jan 9, 2008
Much has been made in the press of global warming and atmosphere change. The damaging effects to the planet are a huge problem that we are all being encouraged to play our part in dealing with. However, it is a universal problem and we can only do so much as an individual. The onus is more on the large corporations that churn out billions of tons of pollutants each and every day.

One of our closer concerns should be the damage that ultra violet light seeping through a less filtering atmosphere is doing to the health of us and our children. The incidents of skin cancer increased so dramatically that it led to a series of advertising programmes advising us of skincare routines in the sun.

The Australian government spearheaded a campaign to tackle sun damage by adopting the 'slip, slop, slap' slogan, inviting us to slip on a t-shirt, slap on the sunscreen and slap on a hat. When it came to light just how much damage the ultra violet rays were doing to eye health, they also added 'wrap' at the end of their slogan to wrap on some sunnies (sunglasses).

Eye damage and the need to wear sunglasses has been very much overlooked but should be a vital part of our healthcare concerns. Teens and young adults who regularly spend five or more hours outside everyday in summertime without UV protection sunglasses of at least 100%, will increase their risk of developing Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) by up to 50%.

Sunlight it the key factor of AMD, which is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the industrialised world. It is the UV A and UV B sun rays that we need to be aware of. They are responsible for cataracts and sun related drug reactions as well as pterygium (tissue growth that can block vision) and skin cancer around the eyes.

Particularly prevalent in high altitudes and snow is photokeratitis. This is sunburn of the cornea causing extreme pain and sight difficulties. It is reversible as the surface of the cornea usually regenerates in 24 - 48 hours. But it is also preventable. Sunglasses with 100% UV protection are the best prevention against eye damage.

It's easy to get complacent and assume that the UK is not near the equator, that we are not known for our scorching summers and many of us do not take exotic holidays. But it's not just these factors that expose us to risk. Suntanning beds, welder's arc, photographic flood lamps, lightening, electric sparks and halogen desk lamps will also have the same effect on the delicate eyes.

But our most damaging aspect is the ultra violet rays from the sun that used to be filtered by the ozone layer, this no longer being as effective. This risk is all around us, all of the time and sunglasses should be an essential part of our everyday wardrobe.

Many celebrities will use sunglasses as a fashion accessory and indeed they can compliment a look. However, this is not the most essential aspect. Huge black bits of plastic on your face are not necessary and although seen as a fashion statement by some do not suit everybody. Just because they are very dark also does not mean they are UV resistant.

It is recommended that neutral grey, amber, brown or green sunglasses are worn but really this is up to individual preference. Always ensure that whatever sunglasses you buy they have a minimum of 99% UV protection.
About the Author
Health expert Catherine Harvey looks at the use of sunglasses in our fight against sun damage. To find out more please visit http://www.site91.co.uk/
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