Dr. Maria Soledad Romero on Summer Eye Care

ROMERO maria_ATEDid you know your eyes can sunburn? What is the difference between UVA and UVB ultraviolet radiation? Ophthalmologist Maria Soledad Romero of the Wilmer Eye Institute’s Bel Air office, shares preventive measures to protect your eyes during the summer. Read her advice and submit a comment to ask her a question.

What are the best preventive measures to protect your eyes during the summer?

Do not look directly at the sun for a prolonged period of time even during an eclipse, because of the extreme eye damage it may cause. Always wear sunglasses or a visor cap when outside in the sun to protect your eyes.

Who is at risk for UV (ultraviolet) eye damage?

Everybody is at risk (including children and seniors), when spending time outdoors. People specifically at risk include: water skiers or surfers; sunlamp or tanning bed users; fishers; gardeners and people who take any medication that can increase the sensitivity to UV radiation. If you are unsure about your risk level, ask your doctor to estimate your risk. Also at risk are patients with a history of prior cataract surgery. During cataract surgery, the natural lens is removed and replaced by an intraocular lens. Old models of intraocular lens are not UV-absorbent. If you are unsure what model of intraocular lens you have, wear sunglasses and a hat for protection.

What are some of the eye diseases that may be caused by exposure to UV radiation?

Some of the common diseases caused by exposure to UV radiation include: Pinguecula /pterygium (growths on the eye); cataracts of the lens (representing a clouding of the lens); photokeratitis or “sunburn of the eye” which causes redness, tearing and temporary blurred vision; certain types of malignancies of the eye; macular degeneration and solar retinopathy, which is an irritation of the retina due to high exposure to sunlight.

What is the difference between UVA and UVB ultraviolet radiation?

UVA is more dangerous to the skin and eyes than UVB and both are at higher levels during the summer than during the winter. UVA radiation represents a spectral ultraviolet band at lower frequencies (lower energies) than UVB; however, both may be harmful to the eye.

How do I choose the right sunglasses?

The best sunglasses screen out 99 to 100 percent of the ultraviolet radiation of the sun and have good optical quality so the images through the lenses are not distorted. Don’t be fooled by color or price: the ability to block UV radiation is not dependent on the darkness or the lens price. Impact resistant lens will also protect your eyes from most of the eye injuries related to breaking of the glasses while you are wearing them. Plastic and polycarbonate materials are the best option.

Are there particular sun safety tips to protect the eyes of children?

Children also should wear sunglasses that will protect their eyes from UV radiation. Choose a wrap-around style that will protect their eyes from all angles. If they are too young to wear sunglasses, look for sunshades or umbrellas and avoid sun exposure from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. Don’t be fooled by clouds, the sun rays can pass through the haze and still damage eyes.

For appointments, call 410-893-0480. For more information about Wilmer, visit hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }


Maria Soledad Romero July 30, 2014 at 10:18 am

Hi Raul,

Thank you for your question.

UVA is long wavelength (320-400 nm) UV and accounts for up to 95 percent of the solar UV radiation. It can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and eyes. UVA rays are present during all daylight hours. Although UVA rays are less intense than UVB rays, they are present year-round and depending upon the time of the year, can be 30 to 50 times more prevalent than UVB rays. Furthermore, UVA radiation can penetrate glass and clouds. Thus, we are exposed to large doses of UVA throughout our lifetime.


Raul Gonzales July 30, 2014 at 8:30 am

Why UVA is more dangerous to the Eyes (to the retina?)
what is more dangerous infrared or UVA.


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