Protecting Your Eyes from the Lake Michigan Glare

July 15, 2020

During our Chicago winters, it’s easy to forget about the sun. But the reality of our springs, summers, and falls is that there is plenty of sunshine coming off of Lake Michigan, the bleachers at Wrigley (whenever we get back to that!), and even off the greens of a golf course. We all think of protecting our skin from the sun’s rays, but we also need to be cognizant about protecting our eyes from the rays of the sun.

Since we’re all about your eyes at Millennium Park, here’s what we all need to be doing to protect our eyes from the sun’s UV rays.

The long and short of it

UV-A and UV-B radiation can affect your eyes both short-term and long-term.

Over the short term, UV radiation can cause photokeratitis. This is akin to sunburn of the eyes. It can be somewhat painful with symptoms such as red eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, excessive tearing, and sensitivity to light. These issues are temporary.

Long-term UV exposure is more dangerous. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to small amounts of UV radiation over the years increases the chance of developing cataracts and may lead to retina damage. The longer the exposure, the greater the association with development of cataracts and other issues such as macular degeneration.

How to protect your eyes

At Millennium Park Eye Center, we recommend that you wear quality sunglasses and a hat or cap with a wide brim. Certain contact lenses have built-in UV protection, as well, so if you wear contacts, ask about switching to those when making your next order.

To provide adequate protection, your sunglasses should:

  • Block out 99 to 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays.
  • Screen out 75 to 90% of visible light.
  • Have gray lenses to represent color accurately.
  • Be high quality and free of distortion.
  • Provide impact resistance if you wear them during hazardous work or for sports.
  • If you are outdoors a lot, wrap-around frames provide additional protection.

Equally important is an eye exam every two years (every year if you’re over 60) with the team at Millennium Park. This isn’t simply to adjust your prescription, but also to catch more serious problems before they start impacting your vision permanently. Call us at (312) 996-2020 to make your next appointment.


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