Warning on effects of ultraviolet light on eyes

It’s not just your skin that needs protecting when the sun comes out, but your eyes too.

“In our excitement, we tend to forget about the adverse effects of ultraviolet light on our eyes,” warns John Traynor, a Cork ophthalmologist.

Sun damage to eyes can present as either bloodshot eyes or yellow bumps on the white of the eye.

“Pingueculae are quite common, particularly as we age. They appear as white-yellow deposits on the conjunctiva [white of the eye],” Dr Traynor told the Irish Examiner.

They usually appear on the inside of the eye but are benign in nature.

However, “ultraviolet light is the inciting factor”.

Another condition brought on by over-exposure to the sun is pterygium, also known as “surfer’s eye”.

“It’s an overgrowth of the white of the eye that can go on to the cornea,” said Dr Traynor. “It’s very common in people living in hot countries, but I also see it in patients who’ve never left Cork.”

It can cause a “chronic dryness”, said Dr Traynor, who is also a spokesman for the Irish College of Ophthalmologists.

Consultant ophthalmologist Ian Flitcroft said the two sun-related conditions are a “form of accelerated aging on the eye”.

“If it’s hot enough to put suncream on you should consider sunglasses or at the very least a wide brimmed hat,” Mr Flitcroft said.

The yellow lumps and bumps are “indicative of ageing”, and provide a “marker of how much ultraviolet light you have been exposed to”, he added.


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