Excessive Sunlight Connected to Cataracts

Mar 21, 2022 | General Eyecare

VisionQuest Child Patients

Does sunlight cause cataracts?

Well, there is a connection. Let’s just say that more studies show a correlation between the two.

Most cataracts are caused by normal changes in your eyes as you get older, according to the National Eye Institute.

Through our 30s, our eye lenses are mostly clear – unless we suffer some type of injury or have an underlying health condition such as diabetes.  Eventually, as we age into our 40s, the proteins in the lens of your eye start to break down and clump together. This clump makes a cloudy area on your lens or a cataract. Over time, the cataract gets more severe and clouds more of the lens. More than half of all Americans age 80 or older either have cataracts or have had surgery to get rid of cataracts.

Researchers have studied lifestyle choices that can accelerate cataracts. Not surprisingly, they have found that over-exposure to the sun’s UV rays can damage the eyes. The longer your eyes are exposed to the UV rays the higher the risk of cataracts forming. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, taking steroids and family history also contribute to them.

Standing out in the sun for one day and watching a baseball game will not necessarily cause cataracts. But long-term exposure can be a factor.

The National Eye Institute recommends the following ways to protect your eyes and delay cataracts:

  • Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block the sun.
  • Quit smoking. If you’re ready to quit, call 1.800.QUIT.NOW (1.800.784.8669) for free support.
  • Eat healthily. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables especially dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens.
  • Get a dilated eye exam. If you’re age 60 or older, get a dilated eye exam at least once every 2 years.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the best sunglasses offer:

  • 100 percent UV protection
  • High optical quality (lenses are free of manufacturing defects like bubbles or waves that could bother your eyes
  • Scratch-resistant lenses
  • A larger frame that offers more coverage of eye area

In addition, pick sunglasses that are comfortable and fit your face properly, because you’ll be more inclined to wear them. Older adults may prefer larger, robust frames that are easier to handle with arthritic fingers.

If you want help with selecting the best sunglasses, schedule an appointment with VisionQuest today. Our trained professionals will help you find the best pair to wear outdoors.