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What's Your Risk of Eye Damage From UV Light?

06 September 2023
What's Your Risk of Eye Damage From UV Light?

Everyone's eyes are susceptible to damage from ultraviolet (UV) light, regardless of age or skin pigmentation.

But some people are at higher risk. Children have a high risk of sun damage as they play outside, but we know that spending time outside is important in children to prevent the onset of myopia so being protected is the key. There are also some studies which show that people with certain eye diseases such as retinal dystrophy may also be at higher risk for sun damage.

Here are some other situations that increase your sensitivity to UV light.

Cataract Surgery and UV Damage

If you had cataract surgery many years ago, you may have an elevated risk of UV damage. During cataract surgery, the eye's lens is removed, leaving the eye more vulnerable to UV light. The natural lens is usually replaced by an intraocular lens (IOL). Older intraocular lenses absorb much less UV light than ordinary glass or plastic eyeglass lenses. Manufacturers of IOLs now make most of their products UV-absorbent.

If you have had cataract surgery and your IOL is not the newer UV-absorbent type, be sure to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and a hat for added protection. However, even if you have a new IOL, wearing sunglasses and a hat gives an extra measure of protection.

Photosensitizing Drugs Increase Sensitivity to Sunlight

Photosensitizing drugs — drugs that make your skin more sensitive to light — can make your eyes more sensitive to light as well. You should discuss precautions with us if you are taking photosensitizing drugs and wear UV-absorbent sunglasses and a hat whenever you go outside for as long as you take them. Some of the drugs that may increase your risk of UV sensitivity include:

  • Antibiotics containing fluoroquinolones and tetracycline
  • Certain birth control and estrogen pills
  • Phenothiazine (an anti-malarial)
  • Some medications to treat psoriasis

Anti-inflammatory pain relievers like Ibuprofen and Naproxen Sodium have also been shown to cause photosensitivity, though the reaction is rare.

Light-Colored Eyes Are at Higher Risk of UV Damage

Have blue or green eyes? Cover up with a hat and glasses to protect your vision. Some studies show that UV exposure and light irises (the coloured part of your eye) may increase the risk of rare eye cancers, such as melanoma of the iris.

So the message is simple, wear sunglasses, wear a hat and sunscreen and make sure that you have regular eye examinations.

Please reach out to us at Outlook Eye Centre in Toowoomba if you would like any further information or to book an appointment.

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