MANILA, MAY 25, 2006
 (STAR) Fun in the sun could also spell trouble.

"Never worry," you say, because youíve already learned, albeit painfully, the lesson of going out in the sun without protection. Now, youíre armed with skin sun block and the latest cool dark glasses.

Unfortunately, experts say these are not enough, especially when it comes to eye protection. Did you know that dark glasses do not necessarily mean protection from the sunís harmful UV rays or ultraviolet radiation?

Dr. Edgar Leuenberger, one of Asian Eye Instituteís glaucoma specialists, says people wearing dark eyewear with no UV protection are more likely to have sunburned eyes than those who donít.

He explains, "These people are lulled into thinking their eyewear protects them when, in fact, it is doing more harm than good. It is much better to wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap than an eyewear with no UV protection. At least with a hat, he or she has 50 percent protection from UV radiation."

For his part, Dr. Jesse Caguioa, AEIís low vision expert, adds: "The reason for this is dark-tinted eyewear without UV coating simply reduces or cuts the glare of the visible light. It cannot cut UV because it is invisible; it is also stronger in high altitude places, like Baguio. Thatís why people should make it a point to have their glasses coated with UV protection. The good thing is that any eyewear can be made to block this harmful radiation, even clear eyeglasses and contact lenses."

So what happens if we donít heed this advice? Sunburned eyes called photokeratitis that could really be painful and could last for weeks; dry eyes irritation; skin cancer around the eyelids, which are non-healing ulcers around the eyes; solar retinopathy that can burn the retina and lead to a blind spot, and cataracts that can lead to blindness.

"But these are not the only eye problems that people experience during summer," says Leuenberger.

"Because aside from swimming, hiking, camping, or tanning, people tend to play and do more work outside during summer, for example, racket sports like badminton; basketball and volleyball; cleaning, house painting and renovation, doing woodwork, and other hobbies that use some kind of equipment. You can get your eyes injured from flying objects because of these activities," he adds.

"If you are going out in the sun, make sure to wear UV-coated eyewear that can give you 100 percent protection from UV radiation and a wide-brimmed cap or hat. Also make sure that your eyewear wraps around your eyes because UV can reach your eyes from the top and sides of your eyewear," Leuenberger says.

He adds that those who have had lasik surgery should take care of the flap by not rubbing their eyes too much and swimming without goggles as the flap can loosen.

Finally, the elderly should try to stay out of the sun as they are more prone to the damaging effects of UV, he says.

For sports and other activities, Caguioa recommends wearing UV-coated safety goggles made from shatter-proof polycarbonate lenses.

"We should also have the UV protective coating of our old eyewear checked and re-coated if necessary since this coating deteriorates after a while.

For inquiries, call the Asian Eye Institute at 898-2020, e-mail or log on to

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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