It’s the first big holiday of summer and many Iowans are spending time outdoors. That sun can get quite hot — and bright. Optometrist Melonie Clemmons says all Iowans need to know that proper eye care during the summer months is crucial.
First off, don’t squint — she says put on some shades to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays. Dr. Clemmons says, "Eighty-percent of consumers are aware they need to wear protective sunscreen to prevent damage to their skin but five-percent of the population are not even aware how much U-V can damage the inside of their eyes and if precautions are not taken, it can lead to age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and exposure to glare can really affect the quality of our sight."
Clemmons says ultraviolet rays can damage several parts of the eye. She says, "It enters the black part of your eye, the pupil, and you have a natural lens behind the colored part of your eye and it absorbs those rays and it makes the natural lens get a little yellowish which makes your vision cloudy and that’s what we call a cataract.
" Also, rays that are not filtered out by that natural lens, go straight back to the back part of the eye, where the central and detailed vision is, called the macula, and that’s where waste products can build up in the eye.
She says it’s not too hard to prevent the problem. "Get a really good pair of sunglasses and make sure it has a 100% U-V blockage on the label," she says. "For my patients that wear prescription glasses, I recommend photo chromatic lenses. They remain clear when you are indoors but when you step outside and they get exposed to the U-V rays from the sun, they begin to darken."
Clemmons says that takes care of two things: it gets rid of that glare to give you better quality vision and it protects your eyes from U-V damage in the future. Clemmons reminds Iowa parents not to forget about the kids. Children tend to spend more time outdoors than adults so they need sunglasses as well — and adults need to remind kids to wear them.