; Anthem Blue Cross And Blue Shield In Colorado Offers Three F.U.N. Tips To Maintain Healthy Eyes This Summer
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Anthem Blue Cross And Blue Shield In Colorado Offers Three F.U.N. Tips To Maintain Healthy Eyes This Summer

August 9, 2012

DENVER - It does not matter if it's hot or cool, cloudy or bright; the summer months are filled with a level of excitement that make this a favorite time of the year for most families. However, whether at work or at play, people must continue to keep safety in mind during these warmer months, especially when it pertains to their eyes. Dr. Elizabeth Kraft, medical director at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado, offers three tips to help you maintain healthy eyes. Think of these as F.U.N. tips that focus on: "Flying objects," "Ultraviolet light," and "Nighttime driving."

"F" stands for "Flying objects"

Whether these objects are a baseball or a tennis ball, or are a piece of wood or metal, wearing eyewear will create a protective barrier between your eyes and those objects. Polycarbonates lenses, either in prescription eyeglasses or not, are tough and almost impervious to breakage. And, these lenses are found in almost all sports glasses and industrial work glasses. In addition, polycarbonate lenses are recognized by the federal government as being the safest lens material for work and play.

Since polycarbonate lenses are manufactured in non-prescription or prescription strength, they can be inserted in practically any frame. They are also available in almost any kind of lens prescription. Polycarbonates can be further customized with a tint, color, and a specific type of lens, such as a single vision or multifocal lens (e.g., a progressive addition or bifocal). The availability and safety features of these lenses are so well-known that doctors routinely recommend them for all children and adults.

"U" stands for "Ultraviolet light"

Although the summer sun is a good source of nutrition for plants, and it can even help people maintain a pleasant disposition, exposure to natural sunlight is something that the eyes need to avoid. Ultraviolet (UV) light is not visible to the naked eye and it should not be confused with the brightness of the sun. UV light reflects off of water and other bright surfaces, so it is important to wear eye protection at all times when outdoors. Medical studies suggest that too much ultraviolet light can harm the eyes. While the human skin is tough and can screen out the ultraviolet light from reaching the inner tissues, the human eye has no such tough protective cover.

The damage from chronic and excessive exposure to ultraviolet light is both visible and invisible to people. Outwardly, unsightly yellowish-red growths called pterygia are a direct result of constant ultraviolet exposure, and so is a persistent redness of the eye. More worrisome are the effects on the inner parts of the eye where cataracts and age-related macular degeneration can occur, both making up two of the most common causes of poor vision...even with the best eyeglasses.

Recent eye research has found that simple spectacle lenses made up of polycarbonate plastic can screen out nearly all of the harmful forms of ultraviolet light in sunlight. Remember, these are the same lenses that are tough enough to repel flying objects. And, the protective nature of polycarbonate lenses works even where the lens is clear. However, usually the brightness of the summertime sun, although not medically damaging, can be so uncomfortable that any kind of lens color or tint will improve comfort.

"N" stands for "Nighttime driving"

For many people, the most complex activity in their daily life is operating a motor vehicle. And, it is even more challenging if there is any amount of blurred vision that causes a need for corrective lenses (or glasses). Interestingly, the brightness of the daytime sun disguises or counteracts the blurry vision, especially the kind of blurry vision that can be corrected with glasses. The most dangerous time of the day to drive is between sunset to sunrise, where a driver's performance plummets with even the slightest amount of refractive error. However, using eyeglasses during nighttime driving, if prescribed by an eye doctor, is an easy solution to this issue.

"If people keep these three F.U.N. tips in mind this summer, they won't have to wonder if they're doing all they can when it comes to maintaining healthy eyes," Kraft said. "They can kick things off right by getting a regular eye examination and talking with their doctor to get additional information on the best methods to use to protect the eyes from the summer sun. These tips are easy to follow, and they can help people enjoy many summers to come."

Coroneo M. "Ultraviolet radiation and the anterior eye." Eye Contact Lens. 2011 Jul; 37(4):214-24. Review. PMID: 21670690Schuch AP, Yagura T, Makita K, Yamamoto H, Schuch NJ, Agnez-Lima LF, Macmahon RM, Menck CF. "DNA damage profiles induced by sunlight at different latitudes." Environ Mol Mutagen. 2012 Jan 16. doi: 10.1002/em.21678.

Sherwin JC, Hewitt AW, Coroneo MT, Kearns LS, Griffiths LR, Mackey DA. "The association between time spent outdoors and myopia using a novel biomarker of outdoor light exposure." Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 Jun 5.Soderberg PG. "Optical radiation and the eyes with special emphasis on children." Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2011 Dec; 107(3):389-92. Epub 2011 Sep 21. Review. PMID: 21946042

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of Rocky Mountain Hospital and Medical Service, Inc., an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. (R)ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado is available at www.anthem.com . Also, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/healthjoinin , on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthJoinIn , or visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/healthjoinin.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 105 million members – one-in-three Americans.  For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.