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Protect your eyes with these 9 tips for everyday sun safety

Dr. Claire Fraser

Written by Dr. Claire Fraser, an ophthalmologist at UK Advanced Eye Care.

Now that the solar eclipse is over, it’s a good idea to review the basics of everyday sun protection for your eyes. Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight can lead to damage on the inside and the outside of your eyes.

There is an increased risk of developing cancers of both the eyelids and the eye itself with increased exposure to the sun. Long-term sun exposure can also result in chronic eye irritation and non-cancerous growths. Sun exposure can even cause cataracts. Every time we are out in the sun without eye protection, we may be adding damage that increases our risk. These problems can take years to develop, but it’s never too early to protect your eyes.

Eye protection is important all year. Snow-blindness is a type of painful damage to the front of the eye that can occur when UV rays are reflected from ice and snow.

For these reasons, eye doctors recommend that you wear proper sunglasses and a brimmed hat when you’re in the sun for long periods of time. Here are nine tips for eye protection:

1. Choose the right sunglasses.

Look for sunglasses that offer at least 99 percent UV absorption. Glasses with 100 percent UV absorption are even better. This can also be indicated by a label stating, “UV absorption up to 400 nm.”

2. A darker lens isn’t always the best.

It can make your eyes feel more comfortable in bright light, but it doesn’t mean improved UV protection. A colored lens such as amber, green or gray can still have 100 percent UV absorption.

3. Large-framed lenses offer more protection.

Larger frames and wraparound styles allow fewer UV rays to reach the eye from around the glasses. This means more protection to the eyes and eyelids.

4. You don’t have to spend a lot of money.

There are excellent inexpensive options for sunglasses that offer 100 percent UV protection.

5. All sunglasses must meet impact standards.

These standards are set by the Food and Drug Administration for safety. Plastic lenses are less likely to shatter when hit by an object. For sports, get plastic lenses that offer shatter-protection.

6. Sun damage can happen during all seasons.

Don’t forget to protect your eyes during the winter months, especially when outside in the snow.

7. Tanning beds can cause severe eye damage.

Tanning beds can produce UV radiation levels up to 100 times higher than that from the sun.

8. Never look directly at the sun, even with sunglasses.

Looking directly at the sun at any time can lead to permanent damage to the center of your vision.

9. Protect your children’s eyes, too.

Don’t forget to protect your children’s eyes with hats and sunglasses. Damage from UV radiation adds up over time.


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Diagnosing eye cancer early preserves girl’s sight

When Kenley Overton’s parents took their infant daughter in for her four-month wellness checkup, they didn’t know much about retinoblastoma, the rare form of eye cancer that most commonly affects children. But that quickly changed.

Kenley was born Aug. 24, 2010, to Jason and Kendra Overton. When Kenley was a few weeks old, her parents noticed that her right eye would cross frequently. They brought it up to their local pediatrician during a wellness checkup and were told that it wasn’t abnormal for newborns.

However, when the Overtons brought Kenley in for her four-month wellness checkup, her right eye was still crossing. The pediatrician suggested Kenley see an eye doctor as it was likely she would need glasses to fix the issue.

In a whirlwind of appointments, Kenley first saw an optometrist who believed she had a detached retina. She was then referred to Dr. Peter J. Blackburn at UK Advanced Eye Care. After some testing, Blackburn diagnosed Kenley with retinoblastoma – a form of eye cancer that begins in the retina. Thirteen days after her wellness check, Kenley was scheduled for surgery with Blackburn to evaluate the situation and decide on a plan moving forward.

The best-case scenario

Retinoblastoma is a rare disease; only 200 to 300 children are diagnosed with it each year in the U.S. About three out of four children with retinoblastoma have a tumor in only one eye. Overall, more than 90 percent of children with retinoblastoma are cured, but the outlook is not nearly as good if the cancer has spread outside the eye.

Blackburn says that although there are no known avoidable risk factors for retinoblastoma, some gene changes that put a child at high risk for the condition can be passed on from a parent. Children born to a parent with a history of retinoblastoma should be screened for this cancer starting shortly after birth because early detection greatly improves the chance for successful treatment.

When Blackburn came out of surgery, he told the Overton family that Kenley’s cancer was only in her right eye – the best-case scenario.

He was pleasantly surprised because at Kenley’s young age, he had suspected the cancer might have been in both of her eyes. The decision was made to remove Kenley’s right eye that day.

In the years following her surgery, Kenley was regularly monitored to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread to her left eye. As Kenley continued to grow and show no signs of the retinoblastoma in her left eye, Blackburn became more confident that the cancer was limited to Kenley’s right eye.

Compassionate care at UK

Kendra Overton looks back on this difficult time in Kenley’s life and remembers how tough it was on her family. While taking care of Kenley, she and Jason also had to care for their older daughter, Jaylen, who was 4 years old at the time. But through the stress, she remembers Blackburn and the care he provided for Kenley.

“Dr. Blackburn was a very confident in the information he delivered about Kenley and her treatment plan, and he had a wonderful bedside manner,” she said.

She said Blackburn even took the time to pray with her family before Kenley’s surgery.

“At a time when we were falling apart, we really needed that and you don’t normally hear of doctors doing that,” she said.

Kenley is now a thriving 6-year-old. Kendra describes her daughter as naturally funny and someone who never meets a stranger. She just has a love for people, her mother says.

“Everyone who comes in contact with her says she is just so amazing,” Kendra said.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about UK Advanced Eye Care, which provides comprehensive care for patients of all ages  from routine eye exams to treatment for the most complex ophthalmic issues.
  • Earlier this year, UK Advanced Eye Care moved into a new state-of-the-art clinic that will allow us to provide even better care for our patients. Find out more about our new location.
Many people know the dangers that exposure to sunlight can pose to the skin, but did you know it can also severely damage your eyes?

Here comes the sun! Get outside, but be sure to protect your eyes

Written by Shaista Vally, OD, an optometrist at UK Advanced Eye Care.

Dr. Shaista Vally

Dr. Shaista Vally

The weather is warming up, and sunshine, swimming and the great outdoors are on everyone’s mind. While there is a lot of fun to be had in the summer, we must also consider how to adequately protect our eyes and skin, which can be damaged by prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Wear sunglasses with UV protection

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation can cause sunburns and in some cases lead to cancer. UV radiation can also be a catalyst for cataracts, an eye condition marked by blurred vision. The best way to keep your eyes safe in the sun is to wear sunglasses with UV protection that prevent UV rays from entering the eye.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) determines the safety of ophthalmic sunglasses and verifies that they can prevent ultraviolet radiation from damaging the eye. Look for the “ANSI” symbol and “UV protection” when purchasing sunglasses. Keep in mind that cheaper shades are more affordable and trendy, but they may not offer you any protection from ultraviolet radiation.

In fact, wearing sunglasses without protection from ultraviolet radiation can actually do more harm than wearing nothing at all. When you wear nothing over your eyes, your tendency is to squint or keep your eyes closed, and the brightness naturally makes your pupils constrict, allowing fewer harmful rays to enter your eye. But your eyes dilate slightly when you wear tinted lenses, which lets more harmful rays enter your eye.

Apply sunscreen around your eyes

Additionally, the eyelid and eyebrow region is especially susceptible to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which make up 5 to 10 percent of all skin cancers. Because the skin around the eye is very thin and contains very little subcutaneous tissue, it makes it easier for tumors to spread to nearby nasal and orbital cavities. Sunscreen with SPF is a simple way to prevent damage to the skin, but people often overlook applying sunscreen to their eyelids and area around their eyes as it often irritates their skin.

Buying facial lotions formulated for sensitive skin and applying a small amount with your eyes closed can prevent it from burning. Some people find that applying their daily facial cream first and allowing it to dry before applying SPF lotion helps prevent sunscreen irritation.

Get out there and enjoy the sunshine, but don’t forget to apply SPF sunscreen around your eyes and wear some UV-protected sunglasses!


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UK Shriners

UK Pediatric Orthopaedics, UK Advanced Eye Care moving into new Shriners building

The new Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center ‒ Lexington building on the UK HealthCare campus, which broke ground in March 2015, will open this spring.

In addition to Shriners, the building will be home to UK Pediatric Orthopaedics and will provide leased space for UK Ophthalmology (now renamed UK Advanced Eye Care).

Current locations of UK Advanced Eye Care along with the UK HealthCare Optical (formerly known as University Optical) will close March 17. They will reopen in the Shriners Building on March 20.

Pediatric orthopaedics patients will be seen in the new Shriners facility beginning April 17, although there will be a period of transition during which patients may be seen at either the current clinic within the Kentucky Clinic building or in the new Shriners space. During this transition, which is expected to last four weeks, parents whose children have a pediatric orthopaedics appointment are encouraged to call 800-444-8314 (toll-free) in advance to confirm where they will be seen.

Inpatient care for pediatric orthopaedics patients will be provided at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Members of UK health plans, including the UK-HMO and PPO/EPO options, will see no change in their copay/out-of-pocket charge with this move.

The new Shriners, which will be an outpatient surgical and rehabilitation center, was built on land that Shriners leased from UK. It remains a separate entity that is not owned or managed by UK.

UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine providers serve as the pediatric orthopaedic specialists for Shriners, an arrangement that has been in place since the 1970s.

The proximity of Shriners to Kentucky Children’s Hospital will facilitate collaboration of Shriners’ pediatric orthopaedic expertise and UK HealthCare’s specialty and subspecialty care for children with complex conditions.

Patients and families with appointments in the new facility will park in the UK HealthCare Parking Garage located just across Conn Terrace from Shriners. The building can be accessed via a pedestrian bridge at Level C of the garage.


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How often should you have an eye exam?

How often should you have an eye exam?

Dr. Shaista Vally

Dr. Shaista Vally

Written by Shaista Vally, OD, an optometrist at UK Advanced Eye Care.

There is a widely held belief that if you don’t have any vision problems, you don’t need an eye exam. But this isn’t the case. Getting eye exams, especially for children, is necessary for maintaining healthy vision throughout life. So, how often should you see your eye doctor?

It’s recommended that all children between birth and 6 months old have a vision screening. Depending on the findings of the exam, children may need another exam in six months. If there are no abnormal findings, children can be seen every two years until they’re 6 years old. Then, depending on symptoms and exam results, exams can occur every five to 10 years until the age of 40.

It’s imperative for children under the age of 6 to be screened regularly because that is when the brain is developing strong connections to the eyes. If there is a problem with the eyes turning, blurry prescriptions, or with the eyelids or lens inside the eye obstructing vision, it can lead to a visual impairment known as amblyopia, or lazy eye. The good news is amblyopia can be prevented with adequate and frequent care.

Individuals with no systemic health issues, visual complaints or strong family history of medical conditions don’t have to be examined as frequently. However, anyone with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, vascular disease or neurological disease and those with visual complaints (blurry vision/headaches) should be seen yearly.

There are some symptoms that are urgent and require immediate attention. Please call your local eye care provider right away if you experience new-onset vision loss, flashing lights, new floaters, painful red eyes, extreme sensitivity to light or any distortions in your vision.

Eye exams are important for maintaining healthy vision, and they can detect changes in your overall health, too. So be sure to schedule regular eye appointments for you and your loved ones.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about UK Advanced Eye Care, which provides comprehensive care for patients of all ages with eye and vision conditions.
  • On March 20, UK Advanced Eye Care is moving to a state-of-the-art location in the new Shriners Building on the UK HealthCare campus. Find out more about our new location.
UK Shriners

Watch: UK Advanced Eye Care doctors discuss new state-of-the-art clinic

The experts at UK Advanced Eye Care provide comprehensive care for patients of all ages  from routine eye exams to treatment for the most complex ophthalmic issues.

Later this month, we’re opening a new state-of-the-art clinic, allowing us to provide even better care for our patients. Starting March 20, all UK Advanced Eye Care appointments will be located in the leased space within the new Shriners Medical Center building, just across South Limestone from the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital.

We sat down with a few of our eye care providers to talk about the beautiful new space and what patients can expect when they visit. Check it out!


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