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Be aware of the damaging effects of the sun on your eyes

Author: Dan Amyx, Owner – Treasure Coast Opticians / Board Certified Optician ABOC, NCLC, NAO

Many people come to Florida for the sunshine and the warmth. Our blue skies and incredible sunrises and sunsets are some of the most spectacular anywhere. But along with the beauty and grandeur of this wonderful state, the very things we love can be those things that hurt us.

We all know that excessive sunlight in a short period will cause a sun burn. We have often seen someone who has come from out of state with a burn that is lobster red. Our hearts go out to our northern friends who naively try to tan quickly and sometimes end up in the hospital. When someone is exposed to excessive sunlight frequently throughout their life, it is likely they will develop skin cancer.


The sun can cause serious eye problems as well. Common for surfers, fishermen, landscapers and others who spend their days in the sunshine, people are likely to develop pterygiums, commonly known as “Surfer’s Eye” when eyes are exposed excessive sunlight without proper protection. This is a growth of the mucous membrane, usually only visible in the nasal corner of the eye. This membrane tends to migrate across the sclera (white of the eye) toward the cornea. It appears to be the body’s defense mechanism, protecting the eye from too much sun. Eventually it may block the individual’s vision requiring surgery to remove it.

Pterygium image courtesy of www.allaboutvision.com


Cataracts are another problem we are likely to have when exposed to large amounts of sunshine. It seems that by-products of Krebs Cycle, the process used by cell mitochondria to provide energy for proper functioning, combined with ultraviolet light conspire to cause the crystallization of the lens in the eye. This crystallization causes the lens to harden and become opaque, thus eventually blocking your vision, causing blindness. Cataract surgery is a process in which the lens is emulsified with ultrasound, removed from the eye, then replaced with an optically transparent plastic device called an IOL (inter-ocular lens). This restores vision to the patient, sometimes better than the original organic lens they were born with.

Cataract image courtesy of Mayo Clinic

All of the problems noted above can be prevented with proper UV and HIV blocks. In the first case, sun blocks can be used to protect the skin from sun damage, keeping the skin younger looking and healthier.

Quality sunglasses should be worn to protect the eyes and the skin surrounding the eyes from sun damage.

Always buy products from reputable businesses, and preferably well-known brands. Sunglasses costing $10 to $50 do not have the same quality or visual clarity of a Maui Jim or Bolle’ sunglass. Lenses in the quality sunglass products have better UV filters and their lenses are more optically transparent, offering clearer, more comfortable vision.

So enjoy life in the Florida sun, just take care and protect your skin and eyes from harmful sun radiation. Oh, and don’t forget the bug repellent!

Dan Amyx is the owner of Treasure Coast Opticians and is a board certified optician, ABOC, NCLC, NAO. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 772-569-4822.

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Treasure Coast Opticians

Treasure Coast Opticians
715 17th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960
Call 772-569-4822
Open M-F 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday by Appointment

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