Eyes can become painfully sunburned

April 28, 2012 at 9:11 PM   |   Comments

CHICAGO, April 28 (UPI) -- Ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds can cause immediate as well as lasting damage to the eyes, U.S. experts say.

Officials of Prevent Blindness America, the nation's oldest volunteer eye health and safety organization, said in addition to the skin, the eyes can also become "sunburned," technically known as photokeratitis.

This painful condition may result in loss of vision for a few days. Pterygium, a growth of tissue that forms on the white of the eye, correlates directly to an individual's UV exposure.

Without treatment, this condition may require surgical treatment, the organization said.

A recent survey conducted by N3L Optics found that more than 40 percent of runners and 35 percent of water sports participants do not consistently wear sunglasses during these type of outdoor activities.

Fifty percent of men and 33 percent of women said they made it a priority to have the right sunglasses for their sport. Reflective surfaces like snow, water, sand and asphalt can greatly increase the amount of ultraviolet radiation to which the body is exposed, the group said.

Ultraviolet damage is cumulative and has been linked to eye problems later in life, including tumors, cataracts and macular degeneration -- an eye disease that currently has no cure.

The group advised all adults and children to wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays -- sunglasses without ultraviolet protection may shade the eyes but actually cause the pupils to dilate, allowing in even more harmful rays.

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