By Lina Younes
Recently I took my mother to the ophthalmologist for her check-up. She has developed several eye conditions related to the process of aging and to extended sun exposure. Cataracts and macular degeneration are just some of the conditions that can develop due to ultraviolet radiation and aging. Having spent most of her life in Puerto Rico it is very difficult to escape those powerful ultraviolet rays! As far as I remember she has always worn sunglasses. In her youth, it was mostly for fashion purposes. In her later years, she has been wearing prescription sunglasses. Yet the prolonged exposure to UV radiation has taken its toll on her eyes over the years.
Originally, I thought that you needed to protect your eyes mostly in the summertime. As I have read more on the issue, I’ve realized that since ultraviolet radiation does not “take a break” during the winter months, you really have to protect your eyes even if it’s cold and dreary outside.
Did you know that snow and ice absorb more light than water? Thus, you need to protect yourself from UV radiation in wintry conditions or while having fun on sunny slopes as well. Have you heard of the temporary disorder called snow blindness or photokeratitis? Do you recall the recent news story of the news reporter who became temporarily blind because he had actually sunburnt his eyes while out in the water for an extended time?
The fact is that we have to be more vigilant in order to protect our skin and eyes from ultraviolet radiation regardless of our complexion or the time of year. Do you have any sun safety tips that you would like to share with us?
About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.