UAE Doctors caution against exposure to ultraviolet rays

Omar Abbas - | Arab

Specialized doctors have emphasized the dangers of direct sunlight exposure to the eyes, especially during the summer months, which can lead to serious conditions such as photokeratitis, cataracts, macular degeneration, and aging of the eye’s natural lens.

The Importance of Protecting Your Eyes from Sun Damage

They also warned that it might cause skin cancer around the eyes in some cases. They provided a number of guidelines to prevent these harmful effects.

Dr. Ahmed Al Neyadi, a consultant ophthalmologist and refractive surgery expert, acknowledged that while sunlight is crucial for life, providing energy and natural light, it can be harmful to the eyes without proper precautions, especially during the summer when temperatures and outdoor activities increase. He stressed the need for preventive measures to protect the eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays year-round, not just during hot months.

Four Main Harmful Effects of Sunlight on Eyes

Al-Neyadi outlined four primary ways sunlight can harm the eyes:

  1. Photokeratitis: Also known as corneal burn, this condition results from excessive UV exposure, causing symptoms like pain, redness, sensitivity to light, and a sensation of a foreign body in the eye.
  2. Cataracts: Long-term sun exposure can increase the risk of cataracts, which cloud the eye's lens and impair vision.
  3. Macular Degeneration: UV rays are a contributing factor to age-related macular degeneration, a retinal disease that leads to central vision loss.
  4. Skin Cancer: UV rays can increase the risk of skin cancer in sensitive areas around the eyes, such as the eyelids.

Al Neyadi recommended simple preventive steps, such as wearing sunglasses and hats and avoiding peak sunlight hours, to maintain long-term eye health.

Precautions During Summer Activities

Dr. Borja Salvador Cola, an ophthalmology consultant at Barraquer Eye Hospital, highlighted that while sunlight is a crucial source of vitamin D, neglecting protective measures during the summer can severely impact eye health. Unprotected sun exposure can accelerate the aging of the eye's natural lens, potentially leading to cataracts and increasing the risk of other conditions like dry eyes and macular degeneration.

Salvador emphasized the need to stay hydrated by drinking about two liters of water daily to prevent dehydration, which can cause eye irritation. He also stressed the importance of a healthy diet rich in antioxidants like zeaxanthin, lutein, and vitamin C, found in berries, leafy greens, and oranges, to support eye health.

Protecting Eyes While Swimming

Salvador also pointed out the dangers of pool and sea water, which contain chlorine and salt that can negatively affect the eyes. Wearing swimming goggles is essential to protect against infections and irritation caused by bacteria like amoebas, especially for contact lens users.

He warned that increased UV exposure could damage the yellow macula, responsible for central and color vision. Therefore, wearing sunglasses that provide complete UV protection is crucial to preventing photokeratitis and other eye conditions.

Salvador recommended keeping eyes moisturized, particularly in environments with air conditioning, which can cause dry eyes. Using artificial tears can help maintain eye moisture and prevent discomfort. He clarified that artificial tears do not hinder natural tear production but rather support it, similar to how moisturizers work for the skin.

While sunlight is beneficial, it is essential to take precautions to protect the eyes from its harmful effects. By following these expert guidelines, individuals can enjoy outdoor activities safely and maintain their eye health.

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Omar Abbas
Omar Abbas
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