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How UV Damages Your Eyes

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UV Awareness Month:

This article might scare you, and we hope it does - just enough to motivate you to wear proper eye protection against the sun.

Most people are aware of the dangers ultraviolet (UV)  light from the sun pose to your skin, while the long-term effects of sun exposure on your eyes are less well-known. UV radiation can damage the internal structures of your eye, causing eye damage and vision loss, as well as threaten the delicate skin surrounding the eye and the lids. 

Before you head out into the sun without full eye protection consider the following risks:

Cataracts:

Cataracts or a clouding of the natural clear lens of the eye which is responsible for the eye’s ability to focus for clear vision, is strongly linked to UV exposure. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) up to an estimated 20% of cataracts may be directly linked to UV exposure. Cataracts are the most common cause of treatable blindness around the world. 

Macular Degeneration: 

Macular Degeneration or Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in adults aged 50 and older.  The vision loss occurs gradually and often unnoticeably as the macula - which is the center of the retina responsible for clear central vision - breaks down. While total blindness usually does not result, central vision is often lost resulting in a condition called low vision, which seriously impairs independent living and quality of life.  UVA exposure has been shown to be a cause of macular degeneration. 

Eyelid Cancer:

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, cancers of the eyelid account for 5 -10% of all skin cancers.  Skin cancers of the eyelid which include basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and melanoma, can all spread to the eye and surrounding areas, causing eye and vision damage as well as facial disfigurement. If left untreated, they can eventually spread to the brain. When diagnosed and treated early on these cancers have a positive response rate to surgery and follow-up care.

Early warning signs of eyelid cancer include:

  • Chronic infection, red eye, swelling or inflammation that doesn’t respond to medication
  • A change in the appearance of the skin on the eyelid
  • A lesion that does not heal
  • A lump or thickening on the eyelid that may bleed and doesn’t heal
  • A sudden loss of eyelashes

If you have any of these symptoms, they may have other causes but it is best to consult with a doctor as soon as possible. 

Keratitis

Keratitis or corneal sunburn occurs when excessive exposure to UV causes burns to the cornea.  The cornea is the part of the eye that reflect light onto the retina allowing vision.  A corneal sunburn can result in temporary vision loss. Keratitis is known to occur from use of tanning beds and while skiing or snowboarding at high altitudes in snowy conditions where the sun rays reflect off of the white snow into the eyes. Proper eye protection is essential for these environments. 

The best step you can take to keep your eyes and vision safe from UV exposure is to ensure that you wear 100% UV blocking sunglasses any time your eyes are exposed to the sun. Larger framed sunglasses and or wide brimmed sunhats that prevent light from entering on the top and sides are even more effective.  Take the time to ensure you have regular comprehensive eye exams as well to help catch any problems early on to prevent deterioration and save your eyes and vision. 

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Executive Park Eye Care is Re-Opening

Dr. Derber and Dr. Gales will be seeing all patients and examinations starting on April 27 on a modified schedule. Our opticians will be available to fit, order, adjust and repair glasses in full capacity. Our goal is and always will be to preserve the health and safety of our staff and patients.

Thank you for your understanding during this exceptional time in history. As a small business we are glad to return to caring for all our patients in a safe environment. Our practice will be maintaining CDC guidelines for patients and staff with enhanced safety protocols:

1. Sick patients will be instructed to reschedule appointments

-If you have a fever, cough, body aches, chills or have been around anyone with these symptoms we will ask that you delay your appointment.

2. All staff and patients will be wearing masks

-We ask that you come to the office with a mask or face covering garment in accordance with the directive from Governor Polis.

3. Social Distancing in the office will be followed.

-Doctors and staff will be at half capacity and time between appointments has been increased in order to provide the safest environment possible during your visit. In addition, staff will continue to disinfect the office at a level greater than standard requirements.

4. Minimize number of people in the office.

-If you are able, please attend your appointment alone. If a guardian or caretaker is needed, we ask that only one accompanies the patient. Other family members or companions are welcome to wait out in the front lobby or in their vehicle.

We are excited to see everyone soon and look forward to providing you the highest level of care that has kept us in Colorado Springs for over 55 years!

Please contact our office at (719)-574-7000 for appointments or questions.