Exposing your eyes to intense sunlight may contribute to AMD. It also increases risk of cataract and corneal disease, and can cause tissue growth on the surface of the eye known as pterygium (which may contain cancer precursor cells).
On the other hand, exposing your skin to sunlight for about 10 -15 minutes a day is important for the synthesis of Vitamin D, which is important for overall health. As a result, scientists recommend protecting your eyes from the ultraviolet (A and B) and blue light spectrums by wearing wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses (amber protects best against blue light).
Play It Safe Following Cataract Surgery
As people age, the protein in the lens of the eye yellows and cuts down on the amount of blue light that reaches the retina. Cataract surgery replaces the natural lens with an artificial lens, which allows more potentially harmful blue light to get through. While researchers continue to investigate the mechanisms by which blue light can damage the eye, including possible connections to the development of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), they suggest that cataract surgery patients should wear sunglasses that specifically block blue light (again, amber lenses block blue light best).
Exposure to Red Light Activates Genetic Myopia Mechanism
Myopia affects 25 percent of the U.S. adult population and a much higher percentage of Asians. A soon-to-be-published study suggests that myopia (nearsightedness) can be prevented in children by modifying their visual experiences. The findings hold far reaching implications for the eye health of a growing number of people worldwide. They may also signal a need for fundamental changes in the way children are exposed to visual stimuli while they play and learn, including reducing exposure to children's video games.
The new research identifies long-sought myopia genes and confirms that myopia is primarily a genetic disorder. It also contains a surprise: exposure to red light activates myopia's genetic mechanism and drives eye elongation, creating a condition called "high" myopia. High myopia cannot be treated with glasses or LASIK surgery. The current study supplies an explanation for the upward trend in myopia that began in the late 1980s. According to the researchers: "The intensely colored images on video screens, particularly the liberal use of large areas of red in animated video games […]."
This also explains why using a night light may contribute to myopia, as indicated in other studies. The light produced by a night light is filtered through the eyelids, which bathe the retina in red light. The same mechanism explains the effect of birth date on myopia. Babies born in June, July and August have a higher prevalence of myopia. This is because they are more likely to be asleep when the sun is still up, allowing the sunlight to be filtered through their eyelids.
Bright Light Can Trigger Blepharospasm
Bright light can trigger or intensify the symptoms of benign essential blepharospasm (involuntary, excessive squeezing or closure of the eyelids). Research shows that people with this condition prefer glasses tinted with a specific rose color (FL-41) over the standard gray tinted glasses often recommended for these patients. (abstract)
Return to Guide to Eye Health