It’s common knowledge that sunlight can damage eyes, but the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays aren’t the only risk to our vision. Medicine cabinets and smartphones may cause trouble too.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, several prescription and over-the-counter medications make your eyes more sensitive to UV light, and thus more vulnerable to cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens) and cancer (ocular melanoma).
Drugs that increase the eye’s susceptibility to sun damage include antibiotics like doxycycline and ciprofloxacin, and psoralens used to treat psoriasis. Certain birth control pills, estrogen medications, acne drugs and diuretics used to treat high blood pressure also make the eye more sensitive to UV light. Several studies have shown that corticosteroids - used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, severe asthma and COPD - raise cataract risk too. Less commonly, anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium may increase the eye’s photosensitivity.
While cataracts grow slowly and can be surgically treated, eye cancer is more serious. People taking drugs that increase sensitivity to sunlight should protect their eyes outside by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
A hat and shades won’t help you avoid the risks indoors, however. A national survey by the Vision Council, an optical industry group, found that 60% of adults and children spend more than five hours a day using digital devices, and 30% spend nine hours a day - more than half their waking hours- using them. People tend to blink less often when staring at a screen, which means less moisture travels across the eye’s surface. That’s one reason why excessive use of digital devices can lead to eye strain, blurred vision and itchy dry eyes. But those are short-term effects. The new worry is the long-term effect of the blue light emitted by our digital companions.
Blue light, also referred to as high-energy visible (HEV) light emanates from the back of digital devices and from LED and fluorescent lights. It reaches deeper into the eye than UV light and may harm the retina, potentially increasing risk for cataracts and macular degeneration, which occurs when the central portion of the retina is damaged by oxidation and inflammation. It is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. The closer to you the blue light emitting device source is, the higher the exposure. If you use a computer or other digital devices frequently, consider blue-light filtering lenses.
To protect your eyes, get yearly eye exams and always let your eye doctor know about any medications you take, and discuss your digital use.
Source: The American Legion Magazine
Provided by Antone Optical