Fes­ti­val Safety: Pro­tect­ing Your Eyes

Pro­tect­ing Your Eyes

Better Health - - CONTENTS - By Tir­shatha Jef­frey

Sun­glasses,

for many of us, are con­sid­ered a fash­ion ac­ces­sory. Dur­ing Grand Kadoo­ment, per­sons will surely don shades to glam­or­ise their out­fits and cos­tumes. How­ever, sun­glasses do not just en­hance our over­all ap­pear­ance. Find­ing and wear­ing the right kind of shades can help pro­tect our eyes, one of the most vul­ner­a­ble parts of our bod­ies, from the sun’s harm­ful rays.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Eye

In­sti­tute (NEI) and the Amer­i­can Op­to­met­ric As­so­ci­a­tion (AOA), the sun’s ad­verse ef­fects on the eyes can in­clude:

• Cataracts – the cloudi­ness over the eye’s lens that causes blurred vi­sion;

• Pho­tok­er­ati­tis – known as a “sun­burn of the eye” that can cause red eyes, a gritty feel­ing in the eyes, ex­ces­sive tears, and ex­treme sen­si­tiv­ity to light;

• Mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion – caused by dam­age to the retina;

• Astig­ma­tism – caused by ptery­gium, a growth of tis­sue over the white part of the eye’s sur­face; and

• Can­cer of the eye, the eye­lids, or the skin around the eye.

Wear­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate pair of sun­glasses can go a long way to­wards pro­tect­ing your eyes from these and other painful or chronic eye prob­lems caused by the sun’s rays. Ex­perts rec­om­mend that you use sun­glasses that block out 99 per cent or 100 per cent of UVA and UVB rays. They should also block out be­tween 75 to 90 per cent of vis­i­ble light while still al­low­ing you to see well.

For ad­e­quate pro­tec­tion, you have to find the right fit. The AOA rec­om­mends frames that fit “close to your eyes and con­tour to the shape of your face.” They also sug­gest that you inspect the glasses for any im­per­fec­tions, dis­tor­tions, or lack of uni­for­mity be­tween the two lenses.

The tint of the sun­glasses’ lenses is also im­por­tant to how much pro­tec­tion the glasses will of­fer you. A darker tint does not al­ways mean that the glasses block ei­ther one or both types of UV rays. In ad­di­tion, despite their pop­u­lar­ity, lenses with a gra­di­ent tint are not the best op­tion. The tint on the lenses should be a uni­form colour.

The AOA rec­om­mends a grey tint for op­ti­mal pro­tec­tion and vis­i­bil­ity.

Ex­perts also rec­om­mend that chil­dren get fit­ted for sun­glasses. Com­pared to adults, chil­dren’s reti­nas are not as ca­pa­ble of block­ing UV rays, which makes them more sus­cep­ti­ble to its harm­ful ef­fects. When choos­ing glasses for a child, you should look for a pair that is im­pact-re­sis­tant, sturdy, flex­i­ble, large, and close-fit­ting. You can also look for a pair that has spring hinges and an elas­tic band.

To help you choose the best pair of sun­glasses for you or your child’s eyes, ask your op­tometrist for rec­om­men­da­tions. You can also ask about other op­tions, such as tinted glasses or glasses that tran­si­tion from trans­par­ent to tinted lenses in sun­light.

As Caribbean peo­ple, sun­shine is a per­pet­ual part of our lives. In Bar­ba­dos, our “eter­nal sum­mer” means that we ex­pe­ri­ence over 3 000 hours of sun­light each year. En­sur­ing that we pro­tect our eyes should be an in­te­gral part of our daily rou­tines. On Kadoo­ment day, when per­sons spend hours stand­ing or rev­el­ling in the sun, eye pro­tec­tion is cru­cial.

Keep this ar­ti­cle on hand, read la­bels, speak to your op­tometrist, and make an in­formed de­ci­sion when pur­chas­ing your next pair of sun­glasses.

Here’s to the best sum­mer of your life!

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