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Podcast Episode #4: UV Protection for the Eyes

Welcome to The Bright Eyes Podcast: Advice for Healthy Vision for All Ages. Your hosts are Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford & Dr. Beth Knighton, residency-trained optometrist that provide eye exams for glasses and contacts, and specialty services including vision therapy, myopia control, orthokeratology, and sports vision training. Their mission to empower patients by providing the best in friendly, professional, and individualized eye care.

In this episode, Dr. Beth and Dr. Nate go outside to discuss ultraviolet light and the importance of UV protection for the eyes.


Dr. Beth: From Bay Bridge Park in Tampa Bay Florida and this is The Bright Eyes podcast. This is episode number 4. I am Dr. Beth Knighton.

Dr. Nate: And I am Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford.

Dr. Beth: And today’s episode is all about sunlight and UV protection.

Dr. Nate: That is right in so we are at one of our favorite parks near the Bright Eyes Family office as you might be able to tell by the children in the background. DO you come here with your family, Beth?

Dr. Beth: Yeah, all the time. My 2 year old loves this place.

Dr. Nate: The only thing I know about this part is that there’s lots of PokeStops here.

Dr. Beth: It’s great to get out to the park with our family is so there’s lots of benefits of being outside – most of all being active. But it’s also great being with our families, whether it’s biking or camping or whatnot. But the thing that we want to stress today is the importance of UV protection while we are outside. When we’re outside were getting bombarded with all this UV light from the sun and for the same reasons we wear sunscreen on our skin to protect our skin we should be also protecting our eyes

Dr. Nate: So we have a lot of patients that moved here from different parts of the country or even different parts of the world and not everybody knows this. But Florida is the Sunshine State. There’s a lot of sunshine in Florida and while that’s lovely and most people do move here specifically for that reason we also do you have to protect ourselves. One of the first things that you can choose to do is trying not to go outside during the absolute highest amount of UV times that that’s usually from about 10 A. M. to maybe 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

Dr. Beth: It always amuses me when the meteorologists talks about the UV index rather weak because here in Florida it’s basically a 9 everyday the whole summer and our summer is really March to September so it’s always a 9 here … so we are constantly thinking about the UV protection that we need … but not so much unnecessarily. From other parts of the U. S. When we talk about sunglasses it’s important that we’re not only looking at how dark the changes as far as the comfort of how our eyes feel outside but that it actually has UV protection in the lens. You want to look for sunglasses that have UV A and UV B protection and the lenses that helps protect you from the most harmful parts of the sunlight.

Dr. Nate: And not only do you want sunglasses that have both right section but ideally you want sunglasses like the ones that we have on right now that have a little curvature to them so they limit light coming in from the sides that it not only protects your eyes eyeball itself but also the eyelids and so that they should look good they should feel good but most importantly they should provide lots of coverage. And you can supplement that with a hat or a visor to protect from the directs sun overhead as much as possible. So Beth is the sunlight a short term, a long term issue, or can it be both?


Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth protecting their eyes from UV light

Dr. Beth: Absolutely both so there are short term effects on the eyes so say you’re going out on the boat with their family and you’re gonna go water skiing so you’re not wearing your sunglasses you can actually get the equivalent of a sunburn on the front surface of your eye from all the exposure to the light … throughout the day so that’s a short term kind of consequence of the sunlight but then also we have the long term buildup of all this UV damage over time which is exactly why all of our dermatologists in primary care doctors tell us to wear sunscreen and make up with sunscreen and lotions with sunscreen on a daily basis to protect our skin and certainly sunglasses help to prevent those same kind of skin cancers from the eyelids and the surface are round eyes. But also we want to protect the inside parts of our eyes from that long term build up of UV damage the things that that long term UV damage can cause include cataracts or macular degeneration which both can have a impact on how well you can see we want you to be able to see along into your nineties and perhaps beyond and so wearing sunglasses even as a child or young adult really is setting the groundwork for keeping that vision healthy throughout your life.

Dr. Nate: And if you wanted one more reason to protect your eyes from ultraviolet light, it might not cause pain or it might not because I disease but Dr. Knighton and I every day when we look under the microscope people’s eyes we can see the sun damage that occurs on the white parts of people’s eyes called the sclera. People often ask us where can I do to get rid of that and the best answer is to prevent that change from happening in the first place and the way you do that is to protect your eyes with sunglasses, with hats, with using caution when you’re outside when it’s very, very bright.

Dr. Beth: Another really cool advancement and I care is that a lot of the contact lenses also include some UV protection being built right into the contact lens and so that’s been really fantastic that companies have been integrating into the contacts in order to promote healthy vision.

Dr. Beth: One thing that I get asked a lot is what’s the difference between UV protection on my sunglasses and polarization and my sunglasses. The UV protection is that healthy part. That’s the part that blocks out the harms full rays of light to keep your eyes healthy. The polarization is a filter in the sunglasses that helps. to sharpen the vision to kind of give you that HD vision but polarization on its own does not protect you from the harmful light rays so ideally you have sunglasses that have both. But certainly the UV protection is the important part.

Dr. Nate: That is right and that is what we tell patients all day everyday.

Dr. Beth: Well, thank you for listening if you have any questions comments or suggestions you can email us at Until next time…..


Thank you for listening. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, you can email us at

The only purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor experienced in the area you require. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. Please consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.

Intro/outro music: Lucas Warford of Three For Silver.

Looking in the Mirror

mirror sunglasses e1308233855784Well, summer is officially here and the sun isn’t letting up. Most of our patients are already aware of the necessity of sunglasses for comfort and protection against harmful UV rays. Polarized lenses are the perfect way to achieve both of these along with clarity of vision and glare reduction. However, most people are unaware of an additional lens treatment that can assist in all of these areas.

Mirror coatings are lens treatments that have long been viewed as cosmetic only. Indeed they are a perfect way to customize your lenses to either make a statement or to show style and individuality. Mirror coatings are made up of either a thin layer of metal or several alternating layers of dielectric material. This causes intense light rays to reflect off the surface of the lens reducing glare and lowering light transmission. The end result is less eye fatigue and clearer vision.

There are many options for the sunglass wearer who wants to incorporate a mirror into their sunwear. Flash mirrors have just a hint of reflectivity for those that want the benefits of a mirror without the look of a Texas police officer! Full mirrors are much more reflective and tend to block the view of the wearer’s eyes. Solid mirrors offer the most glare reduction, while gradient and double-gradient offer protection from glare above and below for activities such as biking, hiking, and boating. They also come in a variety of colors so that you can customize your lenses to match your style or personality.

If you’re unsure if mirror lenses are right for you, just stop by Bright Eyes to try a few on! And stay tuned for the announcement of the upcoming Sunglass Sale!!

All the best,

Justin Schoonover, CPO
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.
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Macular Degeneration and Sunlight Exposure

(From the MyVisionTest Newsletter)

A new research study published in the May 2008 edition of the British Journal of Ophthalmology finds that lifetime exposure to sunlight is an important factor in the progression of late AMD (age related macular degeneration. They report that an individual’s sensitivity to sunlight exposure may have a role in AMD progression in addition to total lifetime exposure to sunlight.

In this case-control study of 215 Japanese men aged 50 years and older, facial wrinkle length and area of hyper-pigmentation, which are considered to be associated with exposure to the sun, were measured using imaging and computer-based image analysis. Skin tone was also measured on the upper inner arm, which is not exposed to direct sunlight. Early and late AMD association with skin measurements was evaluated.

The researchers found significantly more facial wrinkling and less facial hyper-pigmentation was present in late AMD cases. The relationship between skin tone and AMD risk was not statistically significant.

The investigators conclude that lifetime exposure to sunlight is an important factor in the progression of late AMD. An individual’s reaction to sunlight exposure, as reflected through the development of focal hyperpigmentation on sun-exposed skin, may have a role in AMD progression in addition to total lifetime exposure to sunlight.

WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU: There is good evidence that sunlight exposure plays some role in the development of cataract and macular degeneration. The precise nature of this role remains to be defined, but it makes sense to take appropriate precautions to safeguard your eyes when spending time outdoors. These precautions include a broad brimmed hat and 100% UV filtering sunglasses. For additional protection, consider blue-blocker sunglasses. Those individuals that are most sun-sensitive (ie. burn easily, less hyperpigmentation) appear to be most at risk for the damaging effects of sunlight.


Dr. Nate
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

Do You See the (UV) Light?

Most of my patients live in Florida at least in part because the weather is sunny and pleasant. I talk to many people who grew up in the Midwest or New England and lots of them remark about the how the sun makes them feel good. And this can be true. Lack of exposure to sunlight can result in, among other things, mood changes from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

But according to a new survey by the New England Eye Institute and Transitions Optical, the vast majority of people do not know that sunlight can also harm the eyes. According to the survey, while 3 out of 4 people know that ultraviolet (UV) light can cause skin cancer, only 1 in 20 knew that it can do damage to the eyes.

Living in Florida, this is important and something that I talk about all day with my patients. All sunlight contains UV light, and we Floridians get more UV than other parts of the country. So we need to be especially educated on this topic.

Exposure to UV light can increase the risk of several eye diseases such as:

  • Development of cataracts
  • Development of macular degeneration
  • pterygia (deposits between the whites of the eyes and the cornea)
  • skin cancer of the eyelids
  • photokeratitis

What you should do to protect yourself:

  • Educate yourself. Learn about UV light and your level of risk. You can check the current UV index in Tampa here.
  • Have regularly scheduled eye exams to check for signs of eye disease. Many of these conditions start off with no symptoms and can only be detected by a skilled doctor.
  • Ensure that your sunglasses are UV rated for protection. Just because they are dark does not mean that they have proper protection. Look for glasses with “UV 400” or “99% UV A, UV B” on the sticker, rather than just “block UV light.”
  • Ensure that your sunglasses wrap around your face to provide the fullest protection possible.
  • Order lenses for your non-sunglasses that block UV light. Even clear lenses for everyday wear should protect your eyes, and modern lens materials can provide this.
  • If you wear contact lenses outside, consider lenses that offer UV protection. This does not replace sunglasses, which protect your eyelids as well as your eyes, but it is one additional level of protection.

For additional detailed information, see the American Optometric Association’s Statement on Ocular Ultraviolet Radiation Hazards in Sunlight.

Be Well!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.


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