“A high alert is being put out for all citizens. Residents are hereby warned to beware of a new Gang that is prowling the streets. This is a Gang of 3 brothers. Unlike the two dangerous elder brothers, the youngest is not known to be very active. However, we request everybody to be vigilant especially when they are outdoors. What’s worse is that this gang fearlessly attacks people even in broad day light.”
Mrs Dasgupta mock-read from the newspaper, occasionally eyeing her son’s reaction. Sure enough, it caught his attention and he sat upright, his eyes wide open with curiosity. Confident that her son was all ears now, she stopped reading aloud and waited for his response, which followed soon enough.
“Mamma, who are these bad men?”
Mrs Dasgupta mischievously smiled to herself, gulped down her amusement and scooped him in her lap. “Son, remember how I would tell you to put on your sunscreen and sunglasses? It was to protect you from these same bad guys. They are together called as UV radiations. There are three of them: UV A, UV B and UV C…”
We all are aware that UV radiations from the sun can cause skin cancer. Continuous exposure to UV radiations from the sun has been linked to eye damage. UV C rays are almost entirely blocked by our ozone layer. UV A and B rays are partly filtered by the ozone layer, but do reach the earth and our eyes. Following are some of the harmful effects of UV radiation:
1. Cataract: Cataract is the clouding of the lens in one’s eye. Prolonged exposure has been associated with a higher occurrence of cataracts.
2. Macular Degeneration: The retina (photo sensitive layer at the back of the eye) has been shown to suffer from damaging effects of radiation.
3. Photokeratitis: This is like a sun burn of the eye. It is a temporary painful burn of the outer layer of the eye called the cornea.
4. Pterygium: This is an abnormal growth (usually non-cancerous) in the corner of one’s eye, which is commoner in people who are exposed to UV rays.
5. Skin Cancer: A type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma can occur in the area around the eyelids, especially if you do not protect yourself from the harmful effects of radiation.
Here’s what you can do to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of radiation:
1. Choose sunglasses that block out 99 – 100 % of both UV A and B radiation and screen out 75 – 90 % of visible light.
2. Wear your UV sunglasses anytime that your eyes are likely to be exposed to UV radiation. Don’t let cloudy days and winter mornings fool you. The rays can still reach your eyes even if it isn’t really sunny!
3. Be especially careful when you are near sand, snow or water as these surfaces reflect UV rays and increase the amount that reaches your eyes.
4. Even if your contact lenses block UV rays, do not forget your sunglasses to protect the other parts of your eyes. A wide brimmed hat is always an additional asset!