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Keep that shady look!

 

May 2017

Wearing sunglasses can add glamour to a look, and most of us know that by protecting our eyes from bright sunlight is a good idea. It makes it easier to see without squinting and this of course can add lines to our face.

But not everyone realises that leaving your eyes unprotected in bright sunlight for too long can also cause real damage to the eyes and increase the risk of cataracts.

The link between exposure to UV rays and the occurrence of cataracts has been known for a while but has also been endorsed more recently by a study led by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Their research has confirmed a link between the rays of the sun and a process called oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress refers to harmful chemical reactions that can occur when cells take in oxygen and other fuels to produce energy. This is a natural consequence of living and plays a part in normal ageing and age-related diseases.

It seems it also is involved in causing cataracts in the eyes.

The American based National Eye Institute part funded the study and they have published details about the results.

They have explained that the cells within the lens contain mostly water and proteins, and lack the organelles (literally “tiny organs”) typically found in other cells. This unusual make-up of lens cells renders the lens transparent, uniquely capable of transmitting light and focusing it on the retina at the back of the eye.

When a cataract forms, the proteins inside lens cells show signs of oxidative damage, and they ultimately become clumped together, scattering light rather than transmitting it. So, the theory goes, oxidative stress is responsible for destroying the neatly ordered proteins inside the lens and producing a cataract.

While some of this was already generally known, the new study has provided a lot more detail and confirmation. It has shown how UV light damages lens proteins in a distinct way.

This means that wearing sunglasses in bright sunshine is a seriously good idea. It doesn’t mean that odd days out without eye protection are immediately dangerous, the damage builds up over time. But eyes are too precious to risk, and it seems investing in a pair of good sunglasses will not only help you see better in bright light but also help to protect your eyes again future cataracts.



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