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UV protection key to helping outdoor workers avoid eye problems

By Judith Whitehead – Contributing Writer

People who spend a lot of time under the sun's exposure and have out of door professions, people who live near the equator and those who never wear UV protection in their glasses are prone to develop what are called pingueculae.

A pinguecula (pronounced- pin gwek you lah) is a yellowish raised area of the conjunctiva on the white part of the eye – affecting the sclera that occur on either side of the pupil.

Many people who develop these are unaware of them until they are diagnosed by an eye care professional.

At times, dry eyes can be irritating to them and will make the eyes feel sandy and sore. The eyes can also become red when irritated and the pinguecula can become painful. This is called pingueculitis; an inflammation and irritation causing discomfort.

After being diagnosed with these raised bumps, care must be taken to prevent further growth, which will cause more discomfort. Wearing UV protection is most important, not just sunglasses – dark glasses in the sun do not protect the eyes unless they have UV protection in them.

That can be easily checked by an eye care professional. Usually a label accompanies a pair of over-the-counter sunglasses which will tell the consumer how much protection is in the lenses. Over-the-counter tear drops also can be purchased for comfort if the eyes become irritated.

Do not use any eye drop with “whitener” in them because they will just blanch the surface blood vessels temporarily, and a “rebound” effect will occur.

In some extreme cases, a prescribed steroid drop may be used temporarily to sooth the eye until the pain becomes tolerable. In very few cases, pingueculae may need to be surgically removed. In this case, the problem can be solved – but with risk of recurrence many times.

In the best-case scenario, wear eye protection and avoid the problem.

Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.


Twitter: @BNrefresh

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