Author: Dan Amyx, Owner – Hillmoor Optical / Board Certified Optician ABOC, NCLC, NAO
Many Florida residents come here for the sunshine and the warmth. Our blue skies and incredible sunsets and sunrises are some of the most spectacular anywhere. But along with the beauty and grandeur of this wonderful state, the very things we love can be those things that hurt us as well.
We all know that large amounts of sunlight in short periods will burn us. We have often seen someone who has come from Michigan or other northern state, with a burn that is lobster red. Our hearts go out to our northern friends who naively try to tan quickly and sometimes end up in the hospital. If someone were to burn frequently through out their life, it is likely they will develop skin cancer.
The sun can cause various eye problems as well. Common for surfers, landscapers and others who spend their days in the sunshine, these individuals are likely to develop pterygiums, commonly known as “Surfer’s Eye.” This is a growth of the mucous membrane, usually only visible in the nasal corner of the eye. This membrane tends to migrate across the sclera (white of the eye) toward the cornea. It appears to be the body’s defense mechanism, protecting the eye from too much sun. Eventually it may block the individual’s vision requiring surgery to remove it.
Pterygium image courtesy of www.allaboutvision.com
Cataracts are another problem we are likely to have when exposed to large amounts of sunshine. It seems that by-products of Krebs Cycle, the process used by cell mitochondria to provide energy for proper functioning, combined with ultraviolet light conspire to cause the crystallization of the lens in the eye. This crystallization causes the lens to harden and become opaque, thus eventually blocking your vision, causing blindness. Cataract surgery is a process in which the lens is emulsified with ultrasound, removed from the eye, then replaced with an optically transparent plastic device called an IOL (inter-ocular lens). This restores vision to the patient, sometimes better than the original organic lens they were born with.
Cataract image courtesy of Mayo Clinic
All of the problems noted above can be prevented with proper UV and HIV blocks. In the first case, sun blocks can be used to protect the skin from sun damage, keeping the skin younger looking and healthier.
Quality sunglasses should be worn to protect the eyes and the skin surrounding the eyes from sun damage.
Always buy products from reputable businesses, and preferably known brands. Sunglasses costing $10 to $50 do not have the same quality or visual clarity of a Maui Jim or Bolle’ sunglass. Lenses in the quality sunglass products have better UV filters and their lenses are more optically transparent, offering clearer, more comfortable vision.
So enjoy life in the Florida sun, just take precautions and protect your skin and eyes from the harmful parts of sun radiation. Oh, and you might want to have an umbrella available just in case!
Dan Amyx is the owner of Hillmoor Optical and is a board certified optician, ABOC, NCLC, NAO. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 772 337-6377.
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8958 U.S. 1, Port St Lucie, FL 34952
Open M-F 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.