Water Lovers, Protect Your Eyes

by Chuck Carter,
Nichols’ Surf Shop Owner

Your eyes are the part of your body most easily damaged by the sun’s radiation, especially when magnified by the water’s reflection of those rays.

The part of the eye most easily damaged by radiation is the “lens”, optification of which (cataract formation) has been seen after exposure to 200 rads of x-rays. The same amount of neutrons are estimated to form cataracts. This has been observed amoung nuetron physicists. The cornea, conjunctiva, and the retina withstand much more radiation. The retina, however, is highly radio-sensitive early in its’ embrionic developement.

The rods and cones are cusiously shaped nerve cells that are sensitive to light. Why they are the most sensitive to light is because of a chemical reaction brought about by the light rays that enter the eye. The outer part of the rods contain a red pigment called “visual purple”, or “rhodopsin. When activated by light it decomposes into a substance called retinene and then into Vitamin A & protein. The Vitamin A and protein are then converted into “visual purple”.

beach eye safety

The retinal layer is a very thin layer that is in the back of the eye. This layer is very light sensitive. The millions of light-sensitive cells pick up and record the visual images that enter your eye, convert them to electrical impulses, and transmit them along the thick optic nerve to your brain for transmission into sight. Ten layers of specialized cells, including rods and cones, make this possible.

When viewed under a microscope, you can see why they call them rods and cones.

eye retina, rods and cones

Rods are especially sensitive to light intensity, helping you to see in dim light and to detect moving objects. About 125 million rods are scattered throughout the retina in each of your eyes.

Eye damage, mainly the cornea, is more vulnerable to radiation than the rest of the body. When working or playing in ultraviolet light , make sure to take special precautions.

If you feel itching or burning after exposure to a lot of sunlight, you should have your physician take a look. Protection from ultraviolet radiation is easy to acquire by means of sunglasses or goggles that selectively filter out the ultraviolet wavelengths.

Overexposure to sunlight can cause eye injury, sunburn, & premature aging. Medications and cosmetics applied to the skin may increase sensitivity to ultraviolet light.

In a 1988 study on UV radiation and eye safety  you can find convincing evidence  that extensive exposure to ultraviolet light can lead to certain types of cataracts


That’s why it is extremely important to protect your eyes with proper sunglasses.” (Dr. Kushner, Daytona Beach Journal). Explained by Kushner, the components of ultraviolet radiation UV-A and UV-B are the ones you particularly need protection against.

When shopping for sunglasses, look for pamphlets or stickers that state the protection given. For added protection look for lenses with polarization. Glare polarization lenses work much like a venetian blind, filtering out light.

protect your eyes at the beach
The following are some of the main things that can be damaged in your eyes from exposure to direct sunlight, without protection:

  • Retinitis: This is an inflammation of the retina, the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eyeball. Retinitis Pigmentosa, and inherited disorder characterized by a slowly progressive degeneration of the retina.
  • Retinopathy: Damage to the retina caused by disease of the blood vessels.
  • Floaters: Tiny spots or specs that float across the vision field. Most people notice these in well lighted room or outdoors. While floaters are normal and generally harmless, they may be a warning sign of other eye problems. Especially if they are associated with the visual perception of light flashes.
The difference in optical quality between and ordinary pair of sunglasses can be checked very easily. Turn the glasses over and look for the reflection of the overhead lighting. Then, as you move the glasses, watch the reflection travel across the lens. The image in ordinary sunglasses may be way and distorted. Doing  the same with quality optical lenses will give you no distortion.

Glass lenses will not scratch as easily as plastic lenses. In addition, most glass lenses are more effective in blocking out ultraviolet and infrared light.

There are many brands of sunglasses on the market with lenses that reduce the levels of infrared rays. Some of the most highly recommended sunglasses for eye protection are:

  • Costa Paunch XL 
  • Costa Jose Pro 
  • Maui Jim Alenuihaha 
  • Bajio Roca
  • Costa Blackfin Pro
  • Wiley X Grid 
  • Hobie Monarch Float
  • Torege Pure Cratos 
  • Strike King S11 Optics
  • Costa Untangled Antille 

AND, don’t forget to purchase Croakies! You will be spending good money to protect your eyesight and you don’t want the fish to be wearing them!

protective eyewear, protect those glasses

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