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Mother Alert - Sun damage not only to skin, but eyes, experts warn.

While the majority of people are aware of skin damage that can result from unprotected exposure to the sun, very few know about the harmful effects that ultraviolet light can have on the eye. Yet experts agree it is critical to protect the eyes from harmful ultraviolet radiation using hats and sunglasses. In the short term, UV light can lead to inflammation of the cornea and/or the conjunctiva. While this inflammation usually subsides, long-term UV exposure can lead to cumulative eye damage that is reflected in a number of conditions. For example, abnormal growth of the conjunctiva, known as pterygium, may develop causing partial blockage of vision by obstructing the cornea. It is also believed that cataract formation is correlated with UV exposure. More severe eye diseases may develop as well, such as cancer and retina damage in the form of macular degeneration. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to wear sunglasses that effectively protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays. Consumers are advised to purchase glasses that absorb 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation. Moreover, ultraviolet radiation is not limited to direct sunlight, as reflections from metal, snow, or other surfaces can also inflict eye damage. Sunglasses should be worn at all times in the presence of bright light. * Brian Krawitz Staff Writer

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