As the days lengthen with the arrival of summer, Kaiser Permanente underscores the importance of eye health for San Fernando Valley residents, given the increased risk of UV-related eye conditions associated with excessive sun exposure.
Dr. Margaret Spencer, an ophthalmologist at Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Medical Center, emphasized the need for awareness. “Even though it’s commonly associated with coastal regions, ‘surfer’s eye,’ or pterygium, is an eye condition that affects our desert community as well due to the intense sun and strong UV radiation in our climate,” he explained.
Pterygium, a benign growth on the white of the eye, can cause discomfort and potentially impair vision. To prevent this condition, Dr. Spencer advises residents to minimize UV exposure.
“When outdoors, especially during peak sunlight hours, wearing sunglasses that block 99% of UVA and UVB radiation is crucial,” recommended Dr. Spencer. She added, “Bear in mind that the sun’s rays can be magnified by reflective surfaces such as sand and water, typical in our local environment.”
Aside from sunglasses, wearing a wide-brimmed hat can provide further UV protection for the eyes. Regular application of a broad-spectrum lip balm with SPF is also recommended to protect sensitive areas around the mouth.
Special attention should be paid to the younger members of our community. “Infants, particularly those younger than six months, should be kept completely shielded from the sun,” advised Dr. Spencer.
Before concluding, Dr. Spencer stressed the importance of early detection of eye conditions. “Watch out for any changes and seek medical help promptly. Early intervention can significantly improve outcomes.”
For additional information on pterygium, UV protection and eye health, visit Kaiser Permanente’s website at www.kp.org.