Sun Smarts Can Help Avoid Eye Disease

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Carlsbad ophthalmologist Michael Tracy warns patients about the dangers of UV exposure in response to recent study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Michael Tracy, Carlsbad Eye Care

Dr. Michael Tracy, Carlsbad Eye Care

Similar to how lighter-skinned people can sunburn easily, patients with lighter colored eyes have an increased risk of developing a UV light-related eye condition.

Recently, the American Academy of Ophthalmology released a study showing that a majority of Americans are unaware of the risks posed by ultraviolet (UV) light. Health risks associated with UV rays include diseases such as eye cancer, cataracts, and pterygium. Though these conditions can be preventable, many Americans remain unaware of ways to reduce their risk.

Although UV light is invisible to the naked eye, the effects it has on the human body are easily seen. Sunburn is just one example of the potentially harmful properties of UV radiation. To avoid sunburn, people are advised to wear sunblock or sunscreen. However, although these lotions protect the outer layer of the skin, our eyes remain vulnerable to UV rays’ harmful effects.

“Many people don’t realize that their eyes are just as vulnerable to UV light radiation as their skin, and improper or no eye protection can result in conditions such as cataracts and pterygia,” says Dr. Michael Tracy, ophthalmologist and surgeon at Carlsbad Eye Care in San Diego.

Although eyes of every color can develop diseases stemming from UV radiation, patients with lighter colored eyes (such as blue, green, or hazel) have an increased risk of developing UV-related eye disorders.

“Similar to how lighter-skinned people can sunburn easily, patients with lighter colored eyes have an increased risk of developing a UV light-related eye condition,” says Dr. Tracy. “Through the use of simple steps, however, patients can drastically reduce their chances of developing these diseases.”

To help avoid eye cancer, cataracts, and pterygia, Dr. Tracy highly recommends that patients wear large UV-protective sunglasses whenever outdoors. Unlike normal sunglasses, these specially-designed lenses block out 100% of UV rays. Other simple methods to avoid UV radiation include the following:

●    Wearing a hat - Wearing a wide-brimmed hat along with sunglasses is a great way to reduce UV light exposure.
●    Being wary of reflective surfaces - Water, snow, and sand can reflect UV rays from the sun. When outdoors, be sure to remember that these reflected rays can be harmful.
●    Wearing sunglasses even on cloudy days - Just because the sun is hidden behind clouds doesn’t mean you’re safe from UV radiation. UV rays can travel through clouds and harm your eyes. To prevent this, wear sunglasses even when it’s overcast.

“By following a few simple steps, patients can help avoid UV light-related eye conditions,” said Dr. Tracy. “Wearing hats, sunglasses, and being aware of the danger of UV rays are all great ways for people to avoid sun damage.”

Dr. Michael Tracy is a board-certified ophthalmologist. He completed his residency training in Ophthalmology at the Scheie Eye Institute at the University of Pennsylvania and his fellowship in Corneal and Refractive Surgery at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. In his private practice at Carlsbad Eye Care, Dr. Tracy uses his expertise and knowledge to provide patients with the best eye care in San Diego.

To contact Carlsbad Eye Care, please visit or call (760) 603-9910.

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