Ultraviolet radiation (UV) from natural sunlight and artificial sources can cause significant damage to our skin and eyes. It is well known that UV exposure damages cells that may lead to the development of skin cancer. Ultraviolet radiation may also harm tissues in the eye that may cause or worsen conditions such as ocular cancer, pterygium, and cataracts. Sunglasses and shading of the eyes protects us from some direct UV exposure but we may be exposed to something known as diffuse solar UV radiation. Diffuse solar UV radiation is caused by scattering of UV light and surface reflection and can reach the eye in significant amounts. Some contact lenses can offer UV protection to the eye which may offer protection from some of these harmful rays that can enter the eye from around sunglasses or a brim of the hat. UV contact lenses may be beneficial to those patients who already wear contact lenses to correct their vision but will not provide protection to the skin and conjunctiva. Their role in protecting patients who do not wear contact lenses for vision correction has not been studied but it may be interesting to see how much protection they can afford. Contact lens wear, however, has intrinsic risks such as increased corneal ulceration/infection and the benefits of their UV protection should be clearly demonstrated before they are recommended for use by the general public.
Guest Blogger: Roslyn Stahl, M.D. Cataract and Glaucoma Specialist at The Eye Care & Surgery Center of Westfield, Warren and Iselin, New Jersey.