For all of you that worship the sun in search of that beautiful bronze glow (like my daughter) or think manly men don’t need sunscreen (like my husband), or think you are safe in your car behind glass (like me), I hope this photo published in the New England Journal of Medicine will change your mind. This 69 year old man was a truck driver for 28 years. The dramatic increase in aging seen on the left side of his face was the cumulative effect of exposure to UVA through the driver’s side window during that time.
This photo only demonstrates the aging effects of UVA radiation. UVB, the form that causes you to tan and make Vitamin D and is also known to cause premature aging of the skin, does not transmit through glass. According to the EPA, up to 90% of skin changes attributed to aging are caused by the sun.
Unfortunately, wrinkles and liver spots should be the least of your worries when it comes to the consequences of UV exposure. You are probably aware of the increase the risk for skin cancer but you may not know that it also suppresses the immune system and can cause eye problems like cataracts, macular degeneration, pinguecula and pterygia. If that isn’t enough to encourage you to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat, take another look at that photo and maybe vanity will do the trick!
The damage from UV is cumulative and generally irreversible so the earlier you start protecting your skin and eyes from UV, the better off you will be. There are a wide variety of options to protect your eyes from UV including polarized lenses, photochromic lenses that lighten indoors and our new Chemistrie magnetic clips that are light as a feather and go on in a snap. Please stop by our office today to discuss the best option for you. For the latest recommendations on sunscreen see the American Academy of Dermatology’s sunscreen FAQs.
Also check out these sites:
EPA’s SunWise site for more information on UV and tips on sun-safe behavior.
Prevent Blindness’ White Paper on UV and the Eyes
All About Vision’s UV and Your Eyes
World Health Organization UV FAQs