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FOX Medical Team

Protect your eyes in the summer sun

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Will Underwood has spent years out in the sun, watching Buckhead baseball, coaching his sons' teams,

growing up along the ocean. And rarely did he ever think about sunglasses, Until about twenty years ago. That’s when his left eye became constantly irritated. Underwood says it was, “Just bright red, and it looked like you had been drinking all night. Or got up and didn't go to sleep."

The problem was something Will had never even heard of. Most of us haven't.

Opthamologist Evan Loft, a cornea specialist with Eye Consultants of Atlanta, says Will has a wing-like growth over the front of his eye, called a pterygium, or surfer's eye.

They see this condition in people who get a lot of sun exposure.

Dr. Loft says. “You can have these growths that come over on the surface of the cornea that block the vision. Some of those growths are not malignant, but yet they still affect vision because they're growing onto the cornea."

Will has had three surgeries to remove the growths, each time they've grown back.

Dr. Loft says protecting your eyes is critical because UV damage can cause not just surfer's eye, but squamous cell carcinomas, cataracts and even some types of macular degeneration. He says, “People who are out playing baseball all season, or soccer, or spend a lot of time on the lake, golf. Any sort of significant exposure, these patients are at higher risk."

Dr. Loft says you need a good pair of sunglasses. People think the darker the lenses, the safer they are. But Loft says that’s not necessarily true. He says shop by the sticker. Look for 100% U-V protection, or UV 400, which means the lens blocks up to 400 nanometers of light.

Polaroid lenses can help reduce glare, but you st6ill need that U-V coating to protect your eyes.

Will Underwood says he still gets out - just as much as he always did - but now, he much more careful about protecting his eyes. He says, “I definitely recommend getting good sunglasses and wearing them.”

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