Dr. Sandy T. Feldman Advises on the Good and Bad of UltraViolet Light Exposure During Winter Sports

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Ultraviolet Light and Winter Sports: An Eye towards the Good and Bad - Dr. Feldman explains the vision problems that can occur during over exposure to sun during winter time

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Light rays can reflect strongly off the snow and damage the skin and eyes, even on cloudy days. Most people do not know that while skiing, exposure to UV light increases during late winter to early spring and at elevation

It’s winter time and consumers need to keep an eye on the good and bad about ultraviolet light exposure to their skin and eyes. “Light sensitive cells in the retina of eyes help regulate the normal sleep-wake cycle and may provide one reason why people love the sun. During winter, protecting the eyes from the sun and harmful ultraviolet light should be on everyone’s mind, and here are some tips to be mindful of during wintertime and winter sport activity,” according to Dr. Sandy T. Feldman of ClearView Eye & Laser Medical Center. “Pay attention to protecting your eyes and your kid’s eyes. Wear goggles or wrap around sunglasses that block 100% of UV-A and B light rays. And remember that at altitude, everyone is more susceptible to the ultraviolet light effects so use protection and do not be fooled by the clouds,” continued Dr. Feldman.

A recent study published in Archives of Dermatology, found that most skiers and snowboarders did not routinely practice safe tips for guarding themselves against the harmful ultraviolet light rays of the sun.*1,*2 Unfortunately today, young adults still seek to tan their skin indoors via tanning salons despite the known carcinogenic risks.*3 Scientific studies clearly show that sun exposure may increase the risk of developing eye diseases such as cataracts, age related macular degeneration and growths of the eye.*4,*5

“Light rays can reflect strongly off the snow and damage the skin and eyes, even on cloudy days. Most people do not know that while skiing, exposure to UV light increases during late winter to early spring and at elevation *6,” said Dr. Sandy T. Feldman of ClearView Eye & Laser Medical Center. "The highest UV rating was found at Mammoth Mountain, CA1. It is very important for everyone to protect their eyes during all sports by wearing sunglasses or goggles that block 100% of the UV light,” said Dr. Feldman.

“For those looking to keep their summer tan in winter, they will be shocked to learn that indoor tanning, results in 75% increase in risk of melanoma and even, ocular melanoma as well *7,*8,” Dr. Feldman stated.

Not all ultraviolet light is bad. Doctors have also been harnessing the power of ultraviolet light to provide a new treatment for a medical condition in the eye, which causes extreme shortsightedness, and difficulty in distance vision. This treatment, known as crosslinking, strengthens the front surface of the eye to prevent the eye from continually changing its shape and vision to get blurrier and blurrier.

*1. Compliance with sunscreen advice in a survey of adults engaged in outdoor winter recreation at high-elevation ski areas Buller DB, Andersen PA, Walkosz BJ, Scott MD, Maloy JA, Dignan MB, Cutter GR. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Jan;66(1):63-70.
*2.Environmental cues to UV radiation and personal sun protection in outdoor winter recreation.
Andersen PA, Buller DB, Walkosz BJ, Scott MD, Maloy JA, Cutter GR, Dignan MD. Arch Dermatol. 2010;146(11):1241-7.
*3. Indoor Tanning: The risks of ultraviolet rays. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm186687.htm
*4. Ultraviolet radiation and the anterior eye. Coroneo M. Eye Contact Lens. 2011 Jul;37(4):214-24.
*5. Ultraviolet phototoxicity to the retina. Glickman RD.Eye Contact Lens. 2011 Jul;37(4):196-205.
*6. http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/Tanning/ucm116425.htm
*7. Risks of Indoor tanning. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/indoor-tanning
*8. Vajdic CM, Kricker A, Giblin M, McKenzie J, Aitken JF, Giles GG, Armstrong BK. Artificial ultraviolet radiation and ocular melanoma in Australia. Int J Cancer. 2004 Dec 10;112(5):896-900.

As a leader in the field of ophthalmology, Dr. Feldman has participated in FDA clinical studies of custom LASIK. Currently, she is involved in studies of a new treatment to halt the progression of keratoconus, a disease in which the fitting of contact lenses can become challenging. In 2009, she was one of ten laser eye care providers in the U.S. to receive the Goldline Award as seen Forbes Magazine. In 2010, she was awarded the Silver Elite RealSelf award, and in 2011, she was awarded Top Doc San Diego, inducted into the prestigious American College of Ophthalmic Surgeons and was one of nation’s 15 leading laser eye surgeons as seen in Newsweek magazine. Dr. Feldman is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

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