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Sunglasses Rival Lotions as Vital for Safety
Date:8/20/2010

do cumulative eye damage over time, causing more insidious and dangerous threats to a person's vision, including:

  • Pterygium. An abnormal growth of the conjunctiva caused by sun damage that can become so large it grows over and obstructs the cornea, partially blocking vision. Surgery may be required to restore vision. "The bad ones have a tendency to come back, even after they're removed surgically," Duffner said. "They're a real nuisance."
  • Cataracts. These involve clouding of the eye's lens. Ultraviolet rays are believed to play a part in the process.
  • Macular degeneration. UV rays that penetrate deep into the eyeball are believed to do damage to the retina, the sheet of nerves along the back wall of the eye that perceive light. The macula, at the center of the retina, is responsible for perception of fine details and a person's central field of vision. "Chesapeake Bay sailors who wear sunglasses and a hat have a much lower incidence of cataracts and macular degeneration than those who don't," Martinez said, citing research.
  • Cancer. People can develop skin cancer of the eyes as a result of UV damage, according to the WHO. The eye tends to develop melanoma, while the eyelids usually are inflicted with basal cell carcinoma. In both cases, surgery may be necessary.

Of course, such damage doesn't occur just in the summer, or even just when you're standing in sunshine. Bright reflected sunlight from sidewalks, aluminum, snow and other surfaces can cause UV damage just as easily as direct sunlight. In fact, one of the more well-known forms of photokeratitis is snow blindness, which occurs when skiers and climbers are exposed to high levels of UV radiation from light reflected off snow.

So how to protect yourself? Sunglasses. It's that simple, the experts say. A wide-brimmed hat wouldn't hurt, but sunglasses are key.

The sunglasses should be rated to absorb 99 to 100 percent of bo
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