Protecting Your Eyes

One of my favorite journalists – heck, who am I kidding? – my favorite journalist, Anderson Cooper, suffered temporary blindness this past week.

Did he have some genetic condition that caused this blindness?  Did he splash something in his eye?  No, Cooper sunburned his eyes while in Portugal.
Sunburned his eyes?  Just the mere thought of that makes my eyes squint in horror!
Awakened by pain, Cooper originally dismissed it as sand in his eyes.  But, he realized when he was blind that it was something more serious.  Cooper lost his eyesight for 36 hours.
That must have been pretty scary.  But, could it happen to you?
Doctors say that although fairly rare, sunburning your eyeballs does occur, especially for those with dry eyes.  Glare from water caused Cooper’s damage while he was on assignment for “60 Minutes.”
Our eyes actually have a layer, called the epithelium, that protects them from the sun.  However, just as your skin can burn and peel, so can this layer.
Cooper is fine now, but sunburned eyes can result in cataracts, macular degeneration, and skin cancer on or around the eye.
How can you protect your peepers?  Always wear sunglasses, even on cloudy days.
The bad news, at least for people like me that work on a computer all day, is that something very similar can happen to your eyes, even while inside.  Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is caused by too many hours staring at the computer screen.
CVS can cause blurred vision, red, irritated eyes, and in some cases, temporary blindness.
The good news is there are ways to protect yourself.  When staring at the computer screen, consciously remember to blink every so often to moisten your eyes.  Focus your eyes on a distant object for 20 seconds to relax your ciliary muscles.  Finally, close your eyes every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds.
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Libby Pelham

About Libby Pelham

I have always loved to write and Families.com gives me the opportunity to share my passion for writing with others. I work full-time as a web developer at UTHSC and most of my other time is spent with my son (born 2004). I love everything pop culture, but also enjoy writing about green living (it has opened my eyes to many things!) and health (got to worry about that as you get older!).

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