Wellness and Skin Care

UV Damage and Skincare Solutions

I recently went in to see my eye doctor for my yearly exam and was feeling quite pleased with myself when she told me that my eyesight had actually improved. Ha! Take that aging process! But then she told me something else. That yellowish-brown spot on the white of my eye, just inside the rim? That was UV damage. Um… Say what? For some reason, I had never given much thought to that spot and none of my previous eye doctors had ever said anything about it (did I mention that Dr. Somi Kim rocks? Hard.), and I definitely didn’t know that you could even get UV damage in your freakin’ eye? Welp, turns out you can, and it is potentially very serious. You guys. The struggle is real.

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Most of us recognize how easily the very delicate skin around eyes can be affected – one too many Moscow Mules while binge watching Luke Cage and you will pay for it in puffiness the next day. When you decide that coffee is a liquid and therefore must have some hydration benefits? Hey, fine lines! Fortunately, celebrity facialist, Joanna Vargas has got your back, with an incredible range of products formulated just for your eyes, including, her Bright Eye Firming Mask, Bright Eye Hydration Mask and the must-have for winter: Revitalizing Eye Cream, because here’s the deal: the skin around the eyes is thinner than anywhere else on the body and will show signs of aging with a quickness. I’ll give you a step-by-step guide to taking care of those peepers inside and out, but first, more on that brown spot.

After finding out about the UV damage, I went nuts about wearing sunglasses – chasing my five year-old daughter everywhere with a pair in my hand (to no avail) and making sure I had them on even if I was just going to get the mail (you never know, you might run into a neighbor and be totally unprotected while they tell you all about their Christmas plans).

I know, sounds a bit excessive right? But consider this: extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to eye damage, including cataracts, macular degeneration, pingueculae (yellowish, slightly raised thickening of the conjunctiva), pterygia (an elevated wedge-shaped bump on the eyeball) and photokeratitis (“sunburn” of the eye) that can cause temporary vision loss.

Winter is an especially important time to talk about protecting your eyes because it’s probably the easiest time to forget about it. Sunglasses just become part of your summer wardrobe, but in winter when the days are shorter, the skies are cloudier and you’re spending less time outside (well, maybe not you, snow bunny), sunglasses aren’t always high on the list of extra things you now have to put on. Here’s why they should be: “Both long and short-term exposure to UV radiation can harm the eyes, affect vision, and compromise overall eye health.” (visionsource.com)

How Does UV Light Affect Eyesight?

Including the eye conditions mentioned above:

Skin cancer around the eyelids is linked to prolonged UV damage.
It is estimated that 10% of all cataract cases are directly attributable to UV exposure.

Who Is at Risk?

Everyone (including children) is at risk for eye damage from UV radiation that can lead to vision loss. Any factor that increases the time you spend in the sun increases your risk. Did you know that snow is highly reflective of ultraviolet radiation? In fact, snow can reflect more than 80% of the UV rays that fall upon it.

How Do Your Protect Your Eyes?

Sunglasses. Sunglasses. Sunglasses. Look for Sunglasses that:

Block 100% of UV Rays
Screen out 75 to 90% of visible light
Have lenses that are perfectly matched in color and are free from distortions and imperfections

If you have little ones, it’s even more important to preach the gospel of shades. The risk of damage to our eyes and skin from solar radiation is cumulative, meaning the danger continues to grow as we spend more time in the sun. If they’re very little start getting them used to wearing sunglasses and hats as early as possible. They may protest, they will probably lose and/or destroy them but keep trying (a.k.a. bribing them) because the lens in a child’s eye is clearer than an adult lens, enabling more UV to penetrate deep in the eye. And unless that birthday party your kid went to is Blue Ivy’s, no those novelty sunglasses you got in that swag bag won’t cut it – I personally love Zenni Optical (zennioptical.com) for sunglasses that are affordable and durable. And hey, moms, check out their LA Collection. It is everything.

Showing Love to Those Eyes, Inside and Out

Be gentle. Avoid, rubbing, pulling or rough washing the delicate skin around your eyes. Remove makeup by using a damp cotton pad with a little jojoba or olive oil. Press gently on eyelids and leave on for a few seconds. Follow with a mild cleanser, such as Joanna Vargas Vitamin C Face Wash.

Kim Blackwell is a licensed Esthetician, writer and photographer. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and currently lives in Hollywood with her husband and daughter. She goes to Disneyland a LOT.