Cataract Eye Surgery and UV Protection

May 13th, 2013
woman driving car with sunglasses on

After cataract eye surgery, many patients find that they are more sensitive to light, and this is why they think doctors recommend sunglasses whenever they are outside.  However, there is an even more important reason for wearing sunglasses after cataract surgery – protection from UV rays.

UVA and UVB Rays

Most people are aware of the risk of skin cancer from UV rays, but few people understand that these rays are also damaging to the eyes.  Ultraviolet or UV rays include the part of the electromagnetic spectrum, or light, that reaches the earth from the sun.  UV rays are invisible to the naked eye, and are classified as UVA, UVB or UVC.

UVA are long-wave rays, while UVB rays are short-wave rays.  UVC are absorbed by the ozone layer and do not reach the earth.

UVA and UVB rays that penetrate the atmosphere have been linked to skin cancer, premature aging and eye damage, including cataracts.

During the summer, UV rays are three times higher than they are during winter, but even during cooler months, can damage eyes and skin.  There is more risk of retinal damage from UV rays after cataract eye surgery as the retina may be less resistant to UV rays.

Protecting Yourself

It is critical to protect your eyes from UV rays, whether you have undergone cataract eye surgery or not.  If possible, limit the time you spend in the sun during midday hours, and if you must be outdoors, try to remain in shaded areas as much as possible.

Choose sunglasses that offer 100 percent filtering of UV rays.  Full UV filtration sunglasses are much less expensive now than they were in the past.

Especially after cataract surgery, choose wraparound sunglasses as up to 35 percent of UV rays can enter the eyes from standard spectacle frames.  Wide-brimmed hats can block up to 50 percent of UV rays as well.

Sunglasses Specifications

There are other factors to look for when choosing sunglasses after cataract eye surgery.  Choose lenses that are impact resistant to provide further protection for your eyes.  No lens is completely unbreakable, but polycarbonate plastic lenses, which are used in most sport sunglasses, provide the best protection against shattering.  These lenses tend to scratch easily, so be sure to choose a pair with scratch-resistant coating.

Be sure to choose good quality sunglasses, as sunglasses with less than 100 percent UV protection may dilate the pupil and actually allow more UV rays to penetrate the eye.

After cataract eye surgery, protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays is more important than ever as your retina may be less able to protect you from those rays.  For more information on cataract eye surgery, feel free to visit us at LASIK Surgery.

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