You probably know that UV Rays can cause skin damage and even skin cancer, but did you know that these same rays pose a threat to your vision?
Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process. But new research – funded in part by the National Eye Institute (NEI) – indicates that years of chronic sunlight exposure can speed up cataract develop through a process called oxidative stress.
What is Oxidative Stress?
Oxidative stress is a chemical reaction that can occur when a cell consumes oxygen and other fuels to produce energy. Oxidative stress is also considered a major contributor to normal aging and age-related diseases, such as cataracts.
The Connection between UV Rays and Cataracts
The cells in your eye’s lens contain mostly water and proteins. These cells lack the organelles, meaning “tiny organs,” typically found in other cells. It is this unusual cell make-up that gives the lens its transparency. When a cataract forms, the proteins inside the cells of the lens begin to show signs of oxidative damage and begin to clump together.
So how do UV rays come into play?
“UV light has long been suspected to have a role in cataract formation, but the mechanism has not been clear,” said the study’s senior author, Ram Nagaraj, Ph.D., a professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Case Western Reserve University.
Dr. Nagaraj and his fellow researchers at Case Western have shown that UV rays can damage lens proteins in a very distinct way, called glycation, which is typically seen in cataract and in cells damaged by oxidative stress. In layman’s terms, UV rays can be a substitute for oxygen, triggering oxidative reactions in the lens.
“Our study shows how UV light could promote cataract development, and reiterates the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes the sun’s harmful rays,” said Dr. Nagaraj.
If you notice any change in your vision, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor – optometrist or ophthalmologist – as soon as possible. Your eye doctor will perform and complete eye exam to determine the source of your vision loss, whether cataracts or something else.
Cataract Treatment in Annapolis
There is currently no cure for cataracts, but surgery can remove the cloudy lens, replacing it with a crystal clear intraocular lens (IOL). This is typically not done until the cataract has begun to affect day-to-day life, such as driving, reading, etc.
To determine if cataract surgery is right for you, schedule an appointment with the eye care specialists at the Anne Arundel Eye Center (AAEC), a regional leader in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma and cataracts.
If you have any questions about Cataracts or wish to schedule an appointment with Anne Arundel Eye Center, please contact Board Certified Ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles, Dr. Kathryn Gurganus Turner, and the eye care specialists here at AAEC by calling 410-224-2010 or Click Here to fill out our contact form. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube as well!
For more eye care advice and information, please take a look at our previous blog posts.