Although they are often used to make a fashion statement, sunglasses play a very important role in protecting your eyes from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. Most people acknowledge the need to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays, however, many ignore the risks those same rays present to our eyes. Wearing sunglasses that have at least 99 percent UV protection while outside, is just as important as putting on sun block.

Skiers who spend a day on the slopes without sun protection can attest to how painfully damaging a single high dose of UV can be. Photokeratitis (sunburn of the eye) is very painful, makes the eyes red, tearful and extremely sensitive to light. These symptoms usually do not persist long and do not result in long term damage. However, the cumulative lifetime UV exposure to the eyes can be very damaging. In fact, cumulative UV damage is implicated in a number of other ocular diseases, including climatic droplet keratopathy, pinguecula, pterygium, cataract, and age-related macular degeneration.

Pterygium is a very common ophthalmic condition where the only scientifically proven cause is UV exposure. Pterygium, which is very common among surfers and farm works, are much more likely to occur among populations or industries that are outdoors. The prevalence of pterygium increases in latitudes and altitudes where ambient UV radiation is more intense.

Ophthalmologists expect to see a rise in the incidence of UV associated eye disease in the coming years due to environmental factors like ozone depletion. In a recent study 91 percent of the parents surveyed stated they regularly applied sun block to their children’s skin while only 50 percent reported that their children wore sunglasses. Experts say millions of parents are putting their children at increased risk of sun damage.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that you follow these tips to protect you and your children’s eyes:

• Wear sunglasses whenever outside during the day even if it is cloudy. It is especially important to wear sunglasses in the early afternoon and at higher altitudes.
• Choose sunglasses that block between 97 percent and 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.
• Select sunglasses that are large enough to protect the eyes from all angles.

Eat Carrots To Prevent Cataracts!

Once again scientists have proven that it pays to eat your vegetables. A new study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a vegetarian diet may be associated with a reduced risk of developing cataracts. The study administered a survey to 27,670 non-diabetic participants over 40 years of age. The information obtained was used to assess the risk of cataract in relation to baseline dietary and lifestyle characteristics.

The study showed a strong relation between the risk of cataract and diet. The risk of cataracts decreased significantly from high volume meat eaters to low volume meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Compared with high meat eaters (100g or more of meat daily), the incidence of cataract ratios went from .96 to .60 for vegans.

The researchers concluded that a lower risk of developing cataracts was found in people with a high amount of vegetables in their diet. Broccoli is one of the best vegetables for eye health as it is a good source of lutein, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C. Some of the many other vegetables credited with being good for your eyes are brussel sprouts, celery, chili peppers, Corn, Kale, peas, squash, and, of course, carrots.

Dry Eyes Following Lasik Surgery

Essentially all patients have dry eyes following Lasik surgery for a period of 3 to 6 months. However, only those with dry eyes before surgery will have symptoms. Fortunately, the majority of those with symptoms have resolved their dry eye issue within 2-4 weeks after surgery.

There are several possible reasons why patients have dry eyes after Lasik surgery. The most likely reason, however, is the temporary damage to the corneal nerves that drive tear production. As those nerves heal, the tear production is reduced, and the patient has dry eye symptoms. It can take up to 6 months for the cornea to completely heal after Lasik surgery.

Surgeons can take several steps to reduce the incidence of dry eye after Lasik. All patients who are being evaluated for the Lasik procedure should have a thorough dry eye evaluation pre-operatively. If it is determined that the patient suffers from dry eye, the patient should receive treatment prior to surgery. Treatment may include artificial tears, a lubricating ointment at night, Restasis, and punctual occlusion. Studies have shown that patients with moderate to severe dry eye who underwent Lasik after being pretreated with Restasis 0.05% twice a day for 1 to 3 months achieved a better visual outcome than those that were not. An analysis of patients that were treated with Restasis post-operatively also recovered better visual acuity than those that were not. Specifically, the studies showed that Restasis users were more likely to have 20/15 or 20/20 vision whereas nonusers were significantly more likely to have a visual outcome worse than 20/20.

Therefore, patient’s interested in Lasik surgery must be prepared to experience some form of dry eye after surgery. They must make sure that their Surgeon completes a full dry eye evaluation prior to surgery and must follow all pre and post-operative instructions diligently for the