*Disclaimer* This program offers health and nutritional information and is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your eye health, you should always consult with a professional. Do not disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical or health-related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have read on this site.
Can our eyes get brunt from UV rays?
There is actually a condition called photokeratitis. It’s a painful eye condition that occurs when your eyes are exposed to excessive UV rays. So in essence, it’s like having a sunburn to the eye. (1) Just like a sunburn, the damage goes unnoticed until the damage has occurred. Symptoms include eye pain, redness, blurring of vision, foreign body sensation, tearing, sensitivity to bright light. The severity of the symptoms is relative to the exposure to UV rays. (1)
Photokeratitis can be caused by sun reflection from sand, water, ice, and snow. It can also happen if you stare at the sun, such as watching a solar eclipse directly. (1) Especially in Singapore, we are so close to the equator, UV levels can be very high all year round, we should really be making sure we are wearing the right UV protection for our skin and for our eyes when we go outdoors. (2)
1. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/photokeratitis-snow-blindness#:~:text=Photokeratitis%20is%20a%20painful%20eye,like%20having%20a%20sunburned%20eye. Accessed 4/8/2020
So what should someone do if they suspect they have a sunburn in the eye?
They should definitely see a qualified eyecare practitioner for diagnosis and treatment. Of course, the symptoms I mentioned could also be related to other eye conditions, so a diagnosis from a qualified ECP is essential. If it is deemed that the patient has suffered from photokeratitis, generally the treatment would potentially involve a combination of palliative relief (e.g. cold compresses, pain killers), antibiotics, and lubricating eye drops. (1) Prevention is always better than cure though, so when outdoors, make sure you have adequate UV protection for your body and for your eyes.
1. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/photokeratitis-snow-blindness#:~:text=Photokeratitis%20is%20a%20painful%20eye,like%20having%20a%20sunburned%20eye. Accessed 4/8/2020, Accessed 4/8/2020
What about the benefits of UV though? We hear about the importance of Vitamin D – is this really what it’s made out to be, or is it more Vitamin D for Damage?
the best-known benefit of sunlight its role in supporting Vitamin D production in the body. Vitamin D is important to keep our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. For example, low vitamin D levels could lead to or worsen osteoporosis in both men and women. (3, 4) Thus it’s clear that there are benefits of sunlight on our physical health. However, this does not mean we have a free ride to spend as much time out in the sun as possible.(5) There is the damaging side of UV also. In fact, there are different types of UV that can lead to different changes in the skin and the eyes. For example, UV-A is the type that penetrates deeply into the skin, where it can contribute to skin and connective tissue damage. (6,7) UVB is the type that helps to produce Vitamin D in the skin. However, it can also cause sunburn and damage skin DNA. Both UVA and UVB are thought to be linked to the development of skin cancers (7) There is another type of UV called UVC which potentially could be the most harmful to the eyes and skin, but luckily is almost all blocked by the earth’s ozone layer.
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/, Accessed 4/8/2020
4. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-get-vitamin-d-from-sunlight/ , Accessed 4/8/2020
5. https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/vitamin-d-myths-debunked/ , Accessed 4/8/2020
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/, Accessed 4/8/2020
7. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/what-is-skin-cancer.htm , Accessed 4/8/2020
How can they impact the eyes then?
Most people don’t realise UV can impact the eyes too. The way that UV damage can manifest in the eyes is varied. So, for example, UV exposure can lead to sun-spot-like growths on the white part of the eye called pinguecula. These tend to look like yellow “bumps” on the whites of the eye. Generally harmless but can just get red and be a bit irritating. However, UV has also been linked to other eye conditions such as cataract or even macula degeneration, which can potentially affect vision. Macula degeneration, for example, can lead to a loss of central vision. (8) So definitely you don’t want to take your chances when it comes to UV exposure!
8. https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/uv-protection, Accessed 4/8/2020
How can I tell that our eyes are ‘burnt’?
In acute cases e.g. sunburn of the eye or photokeratitis, if you notice the symptoms of redness, tearing, photophobia/sensitivity to light, foreign body sensation, you should definitely see an optometrist straight away for a diagnosis. They will need to take a detailed history and symptoms check and also assess the condition of the surface of your eye with specialized equipment before providing a diagnosis and treatment plan. For screening for other conditions such as cataract, macula degeneration, everyone should be having regular eye examinations with an optometrist. The Optometrist and Opticians Board (9) actually recommends an eye examination every 1-2 years to assess not just the prescription, but the eye health also. So that’s checking the front of the eye, as well as the back of the eye or the retina. It’s generally during these checks that these conditions may be picked up. Of course, if you do notice any changes in your vision, you should see your optometrist sooner than the 1-2 year mark and for those who have a pre-existing eye or general health conditions that increases their risk of eye conditions, they should be seeing their optometrist more regularly. (9)
9. https://www.healthprofessionals.gov.sg/docs/librariesprovider6/default-document-library/english-ver–moh-oob-code-of-professional-conduct-(oct2018).pdf, Accessed 4/8/2020
Are there any ways to prevent the eyes getting burnt?
Proper UV protection is essential for the eyes:
- Wear a broad rimmed hat and/or sunglasses (ideally with side protection). Ensure you purchase a quality pair of sunglasses that block 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB
- Ensure you are wearing contact lenses with UV protection in them to protect the front of your eyes.
- Of course, CL with UV a UV filter in them will protect the important parts of the eye that the contact lens covers. Sunglasses are still recommended to protect the delicate skin around your eyes from UV damage. (8)
8. https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/uv-protection , Accessed 4/8/2020
The contact lenses in the market are already providing UV protection to our eyes how are ACUVUE CL any different and what makes your latest innovation ACUVUE Oasys with Transitions different?
Not all contact lenses on the market do actually provide UV protection but all ACUVUE lenses come with UV blocking properties.+ ACUVUE always develops contact lenses with the wearers eye health and comfort in mind, what we call, Eye Inspired designs and hence all our contact lenses provide UV protection to the wearer. Do speak to your eye care practitioner about whether or not your contact lenses have a UV filter in them.
What we know that in the modern world, every day from morning til night, the eye needs to adapt to many changes in light e.g. looking at screens, going indoors to outdoors and vice versa. This can lead us to need to turn the screen brightness down, shade the eyes or squint. These can all lead to visual discomfort and eye fatigue. (10,11) A survey did in Singapore showed that 78% of people are bothered by bright or harsh lighting conditions daily, whether this is from bright light from devices, from the sun or from bright lights at night. (12)
Hence, after many years of R&D, ACUVUE was able to produce a contact lens in a material that provides unbeaten comfort (13), combined with photochromic technology to reduce the stressful impact of bright light (14). This means our light intelligent contact lens will actually adjust how much light it filters according to the environment. So, when this lens is indoors, it will be filtering up to 15% of light, including blue lights, and can help reduce the feeling of tired eyes while using digital devices (15,16). Despite this, the lens is barely noticeable on the eye.
When the wearer is outdoors, and the lens is exposed to full sunlight, the lens will darken and filter up to 70% of light (17). On top of this light intelligent technology, ACUVUE Oasys with Transitions provides:
- The highest level of UV blocking of any contact lens on the market
- Active blue light filtering and helps reduce the feeling of tired eyes and provide superior visual comfort while using digital devices^
Overall, it provides the wearer soothing vision all day as well as exceptional on-eye comfort.
Thorud HM, Helland M, Aaras A, Kvikstad TM, Lindberg LG, Horgen G. Eye-related pain induced by visually demanding computer work. Optometry and vision science. 2012;89(4):E452-464.
Lin Y, Fotios S, Wei M, Liu Y, Guo W, Sun Y. Eye Movement and Pupil Size Constriction Under Discomfort Glare. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science. 2015;56(3):1649-1656.
2019 AOWT SG Consumer Survey, 1000 respondents
JJV Data on File 2020. Claim for the family of ACUVUE OASYS Brand Contact Lenses (2-week reusable) and ACUVUE OASYS 1-Day with HydraLuxe Technology using clinical trials cited on www.clinicaltrials.gov website (March 24, 2020)
JJV Data on File 2018: ACUVUE OASYS with Transitions Objective Clinical Evaluation of two silicone hydrogel reusable contact lenses. Non-dispensing evaluation, n=58 soft CL wearers in the U.S.
JJV Data on File 2020. ACUVUE OASYS Family Digital Device Claims
JJV Data on File 2019. ACUVUE OASYS Contact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology – Subjective Clinical Claims
JJV Data on File 2018. Definition of ACUVUE® OASYS with Transitions™ Light Intelligent Technology™
^ JJV Data on File 2020. ACUVUE OASYS Family Digital Device Claims & JJV Data on File 2019. ACUVUE OASYS Contact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology – Subjective Clinical Claims.
+ JJV Data on File 2017. ACUVUE Brand Reusable Spherical Contact Lenses vs widely prescribed conventional contact lenses in Korea.
Since we are on the topic of CL wear and in the middle of the pandemic are there any safety concerns regarding CL handling?
Contact lens wear and care during the pandemic is no different to without the pandemic. Wearers should always follow the lens wear and care instructions provided by their prescribing eye care practitioners. Of course, wearers should always follow the basic principles of:
- Washing their hands thoroughly before handling their lenses (for insertion or removal)
- Replace their lenses as recommended by their ECP
- As per usual, if wearers are feeling unwell, in general, they should temporarily take a break from their CL and wear their glasses until they are feeling better.
All contact lens prescription should be renewed every 6 months and if you need to replenish your CL and have an up to date prescription, you should ask your optometrist. There is no current evidence to say that normal glasses will provide additional protection against COVID-19 infection. (18)
18. Centre for Ocular Research, https://core.uwaterloo.ca/covid-19/, Accessed 4/8/2020
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Purchase ACUVUE Oasys with Transitions contact lenses online from now till 25 Aug 2020, you will also receive a $10 discount code for your next purchase of ACUVUE contact lenses. T&Cs apply.