How to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Macular Degeneration

Early on in life, the risk of experiencing major changes to your vision or even going blind are fairly slim. However, as you age, your risk of disorders that can rob you of your vision increase. This includes macular degeneration, which can be caused by a lifetime of UV exposure. While sunglasses and avoiding the brightest hours of the day can help to reduce your risk, there's one step you can take that will help to reduce your risk all day long. Read on to learn more about this method and how it works to protect you.

Get Contact Lens UV Protection

The tool that can help to protect your eyes all day long is contact lenses. Contact lenses can be made out of material that shield the most sensitive part of your eye from UV radiation. While contact lenses don't cover the entirety of the eye or the surrounding skin, they cover the pupil and cornea. These are the parts of the eye that let light into your optic nerve and are most damaged by UV radiation.

Unlike sunglasses or regular glasses with a UV-resistant coating, contact lenses can be worn even when you go to sleep. As a result, the UV radiation you're exposed to while you're sleeping near an open window and any you're exposed to when you first get up during the day won't penetrate deeply into your eye and cause harmful damage. While these periods of time may not sound significant, over the course of many years, the damage can add up, increasing your risk of macular degeneration.

Protect Your Eyes Indoors

If you think you don't need to worry about UV rays while you're indoors—even if you're near a window—think again. UV rays can penetrate through the glass that's used in windows. While glass does a good job of filtering out the UV rays that are responsible for sunburns, they don't protect against the more deeply-penetrating form of UV that causes lasting damage to your eyes. Even while your eyes are closed during sleep, if light is coming into the room from a nearby window, your eyes could be at risk.

Also, while the average compact fluorescent bulb doesn't create enough light for you to feel the need to wear sunglasses, it does produce UV radiation. If you've switched out some or all of your light bulbs for CFLs, your eyes could be at risk. Thankfully, contact lenses that are designed to protect you from UV rays will block this form of radiation.

Your sight is important to you, so you should use every tool you can to protect it. Talk to your optometrist about getting a pair of UV-shielding contact lenses that you can wear while you sleep. In the years to come, you'll be glad to know you took steps to protect your vision today.