Health, Myths, Fraud and the Crisis

… but one must make sure the glasses block 99% of ultraviolet rays – both UV-A and UV-B rays

by Jenny Thompson
Director, Health Sciences Institute

Photokeratitis – that’s Excellent Reason Number One to wear sunglasses with proper UV protection.

Here’s Excellent Reason Number Two: Cataracts. More than 60% of blind South Africans went blind due to cataracts and I know you don’t want to join their ranks. The risk of cataracts increases with a family history of the condition, diabetes, smoking and long-term steroid use. But UV exposure ranks as one of the most serious risk factors.

Excellent Reason Number Three: Pterygium. When the cornea is damaged by sun exposure, scar tissue and blood vessels create an abnormal growth that can extend to the pupil and block vision. Severest pterygium cases require surgery.

Excellent Reason Number Four: Skin cancer. Sun exposure is the cause of basal cell carcinoma, one of the two most common cancers. The other is squamous cell. Both are treatable with minor surgery. But they’re unsightly and annoying, especially when they develop on eyelids.

Excellent Reason Number Five: Macular degeneration. As I’ve mentioned before, this is the most common cause of blindness in people 55 and over. If you live in a region that’s sunny year-round and don’t wear proper sunglasses, UV damage can reach the retina at the back of the eyeball. When damage occurs in the macula, at the centre of the retina, deterioration begins at the centre of the field of vision and slowly expands.

A Florida ophthalmologist told a local newspaper: “I’ve seen very expensive sunglasses that are not good ultraviolet absorbers and I’ve seen cheap sunglasses that were great ultraviolet absorbers.”

In addition to shopping for lenses that are reliable UV-absorbers, a wraparound frame does a much better job of filtering out UV than glasses with smaller frames and lenses.

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