Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in adults 60 years or older in the United States, and age-related macular degeneration is the No. 1 cause of blindness. Protecting your eyes may be as simple as wearing sunglasses.
May is healthy vision month, the perfect time to schedule your eye exam and learn how to keep your eyes healthy.
Wearing sunglasses is perhaps one of the easiest and most practical ways to protect your eyes against harmful ultraviolet rays that can damage the structure of your eyes and increase the risk of macular degeneration.
Over time, your vision is affected by a number of factors, including your age, ultraviolet rays from the sun, computer use, and cell phone light. Your eyes can also be affected by glare when watching television for long periods of time.
Without regular checkups, you won’t know whether you’re developing or have developed eye health issues that threaten the integrity of your vision — until it’s too late. Did you know that research has shown that even the slightest vision problems can reduce employee productivity by as much as 10% and the accuracy of workers to perform their tasks well, by as much as 40%?
At McDonald Eye Care Associates, we take pride in vision care and want to increase your awareness of the importance of eye health. Here’s what you need to know about macular degeneration and ultraviolet (UV) rays.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a degenerative condition that affects the central part of the retina, the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye, resulting in distortion or vision loss. It is considered an incurable disease, but it is treatable, and most often the remaining vision can be enhanced to make the most of your usable vision.
In some cases, your eyes may:
- Blur, become fuzzy, or distort images
- Become wavy with some dark areas at the center
- Leave you with shadowy areas in your central vision
Macular degeneration is the loss of central vision, not blindness but low vision.
What are UV rays and how do they affect your eyes?
The retina’s central portion of your eye is known as the macula, and problems occur when a part of the macula is damaged. Continuous exposure to harmful UV rays due to glare from digital devices or significant exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation can damage your eyes, or more specifically, the retina.
UV damage can cause:
- Photo conjunctivitis, also known as snow blindness, photokeratitis, or ultraviolet keratitis, a painful condition from exposure to UV rays
- Macular degeneration or the loss of vision due to damage of the retina
- Cataracts or clouding of the eye’s natural lens
A simple tool for UV protection
Sunglasses come in a variety of shapes, styles, and colors, and while they’re commonly associated with fashion, sunglasses play an important role in protecting your eyes. Sunglasses can significantly reduce your exposure to the ultraviolet rays that can damage the central portion of your eye.
Choose sunglasses labeled 100% UV protection in order to receive the maximum eye protection possible, and select ones that reduce glare. Since blue light is damaging to the retina, buy glasses that offer this protection. Wraparound sunglasses provide additional protection, helping block light from every angle.
Protection against visible light
In addition to protecting your eyes from UV light, which is invisible to the human eye, sunglasses protect your eyes from high intensity visible light emitted from the sun. This type of light damages the retina and can cause solar retinopathy. Repeated exposure may increase your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Wearing sunglasses when out in bright light is a simple way to keep your eyes healthy.
McDonald Eye Care Associates is a multigenerational family practice specializing in treatment support that can slow macular degeneration and keep your eyes as healthy as possible. To schedule a vision exam with one of our optometrists, call our Lakeville, Minnesota, office or book online today.