Sun Protection Q&A Q&A with Dr. Britt Gustafson
Q: What can a person do to protect herself from sun exposure?
Dr. Gustafson: There are many things that each of us can do to protect against sun exposure. Wearing high-quality sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, using sunscreen, and avoiding the sun during the hours of 10 AM-4 PM are all ways to limit exposure to ultraviolet rays. When applying sunscreen be sure to apply liberally to skin 30 minutes before going outside and re-apply every two hours; more frequently if you are swimming. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends SPF 15 for everyday use and broad spectrum, water-resistant SPF 30 or higher for prolonged outdoor activity.
Q: What exactly are ‘Ultraviolet rays”?
Dr. Gustafson: Ultraviolet rays are emitted by the sun and are invisible to the human eye due to their shorter wavelengths. UVA accounts for 95% of the solar radiation that reaches the surface of the Earth and is present during all daylight hours year-round. UVB rays are more intense than UVA rays and their intensity varies by day and season; they are most intense between April and October and between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM.
Q: Are sunglasses an important part of a sun protection plan?
Dr. Gustafson: Absolutely – sunglasses are a critical piece of a UV protection strategy. It is important to wear sunglasses any time one is outside to protect the eyes and the delicate skin around the eyes. UV exposure can cause early onset of cataracts, skin cancer of the eyelids/skin around the eye, and is a risk factor for macular degeneration.
Q: What type of sunglasses best protect from UV rays?
Dr. Gustafson: In order to best protect from UV rays, sunglasses should block 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation. Sunglasses should have a label that says they block 99-100% of UV light or that they absorb UV up to 400nm.
Q: Do children need to wear sunglasses?
Dr. Gustafson: Yes they do. According to the American Optometric Association, children are exposed to approximately three times more UV radiation per year than an adult and receive up to 80% of their lifetime UV exposure before the age of 20. No one is too young for sunglasses!
Q: I’ve heard of getting my skin sunburned, but can your eyes also get sunburned?
Dr. Gustafson: Yes, your eyes can get sunburned, which is known clinically as photokeratitis and commonly as “snow blindness.” This is most frequently experienced by welders, skiers, or mountain climbers. Symptoms include severe eye pain, redness, and blurry vision. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see an eye care provider immediately for diagnosis and treatment.
Call The Eye Doctors on 952-955-4427 in Eden Prairie, Bloomington, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Chanhassen, Minnesota to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist.
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