With solar eclipses advertised in the news, many more people today are interested in this amazing phenomenon. However, improper viewing can create medical issues with your vision. Learn about the top 4 ways looking directly at the sun can damage your eyesight today.
1. Corneal Sunburn
One ailment that can occur with too much sunlight is corneal sunburn or photokeratitis. Essentially, the ultraviolet or UV rays from the sun damage the corneal or outside layer of the eye. In reality, it feels like a sunburn on the eyes. For example, cloudy vision and painful sensations are common with photokeratitis.
Furthermore, you don’t have to stare directly at the sun for this issue to arise. Walking without sunglasses on a sunny and snowy day, for instance, can create corneal sunburn. If you notice vision problems after sun exposure, visiting your doctor is the best way to diagnose the condition.
2. Solar Retinopathy
Staring at the sun too long can cause solar retinopathy or retina damage. To create vision, light must bounce off the back of the eye or retina. Here, a mixture of rods and cones make up the retina’s anatomy. When too much sunlight enters the pupil, it strikes the retina with a lot of energy. As a result, free radicals form and slowly deteriorate those rods and cones.
Indeed, several minutes of sunlight exposure isn’t even needed for damage to occur. Truthfully, a few seconds of UV exposure can create vision problems. For this reason, scientists and doctors alike warn against looking up at the sun for any purpose, including eclipse viewing.
3. Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is often associated with aging, but it can occur with sunlight damage. Quite simply, this ailment refers to the center of the retina or macular section. As UV rays strike the macula, it slowly breaks down.
Indeed, your eyesight doesn’t necessarily blur as a whole. Because the degeneration impacts the macula, you’ll see issues in the center of your vision. In contrast, your peripheral vision remains normal.
Because this ailment is progressive, you may not relate its cause to sunlight damage. To avoid macular degeneration caused by environmental factors, avoid staring at the sun for any reason.
Another ailment that’s associated with both aging and sun exposure is cataracts. This ailment involves the clouding of the lenses found deep within the eye. Certainly, aging is the leading cause of cataracts. However, aging and sunlight exposure may produce cloudy lenses.
Again, this condition is also progressive. Over time, you’ll notice a cloudy perspective in your daytime vision. During the night, it becomes difficult to drive.
Luckily, cataracts are treatable. Experienced ophthalmologists replace the lenses with an outpatient procedure. However, avoiding damaged eyesight in the first place is preferable. If you protect your eyes as much as possible throughout your lifetime, but cataracts develop, at least you know it’s probably brought on by age.
How to Protect Your Eyes
Each day, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Although there may be clouds, UV rays can still damage your eyesight. This scenario is especially true if you’re in a snow-covered area, out on water, or in another region where sunlight reflection is prevalent.
For a sunlight event, such as an eclipse, consider wearingeclipse glasses. These specialized glasses have darkened lenses designed for celestial events. Ideally, buy them right before an eclipse, use them once, and dispose of them afterward. If you store them for another eclipse, scratches might develop on the lenses. As a result, the damaged lenses might lead to vision damage. Do not wear sunglasses as substitutes for eclipse glasses, either. The lenses aren’t dark enough to block the UV rays.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays are always a hazard even when it’s cloudy outside. Keep your eyes cast down toward the Earth for the safest conditions. In the end, viewing the sun at any time requires an indirect view or specialized lenses. Protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays is paramount to maintaining good eye health and vision.