UV’s Role in Eye Disease

With spring already here in Calgary and summer just around the corner, we thought it would be a good idea to explain UV’s role in eye disease.

Eye doctors have already warned people about the harmful effects of UV or ultraviolet light radiation to the eyes. Too much UV exposure can result in age-related macular degeneration, cataract development, snow-blindness and even pinguecula or pterygium.

However, at present, these eye problems carry on escalating even if a lot of spectacles, contact lenses, and intraocular lens have UV protection coatings in them. This article will tackle at the recent understanding about UV exposure and a few of the most common and also rare conditions that optometrists face when it comes to damages from UV light.

Three Forms of Ultraviolet Light

UVA has a wavelength of 315nm to 380nm and can pierce through the skin. This is sometimes linked with tanning but is also associated with skin aging.

UVB has a much as smaller wavelength compared to UVA, 280nm to 215nm. UVB doesn’t pierce through the skin as intensely as UVA since it is mostly absorbed by the epidermis. So, it can be a more harmful type of UV light that can lead to sunburn or erythema, skin blisters, and possible different skin cancers.

UVC has a wavelength of 100nm to 280nm and is considered to be the most damaging to the skin, which ends up in skin cancer. Luckily, much of UVC is absorbed in the ozone layer and doesn’t enter the surface of the earth.

The light that reaches the earth mainly consists of roughly 95% UVA light and 5% UVB/UVC.

UVB and most particularly UVC are absorbed by the molecules of the DNA, so that’s why many experts think that these are the ones with the extreme effect on changing skin tissue and are linked with various skin cancers.

UVC is also the type that stages a vital role in cataract genesis and also macular degeneration. UVC can, in fact, create free radicals that affect the DNA. UVC has the capability to disturb structures like collagen, which are dominant in the conjunctiva and cornea and also glycans like hyaluronic acid

How to Protect Your Eyes from UV Light

It is advisable to wear appropriate eye protection and headgear to block UV rays. To effectively protect your eyes, sunglasses must:

  • Suppress 99 to 100% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation
  • Block 75 to 90% of visible light
  • Be perfectly coordinated in colour and free of distortion and imperfection
  • Use grey lenses for proper colour recognition

We hope you’ve learnt about UV’s role in eye disease. If you need an eye exam in Calgary, Dr. Alex G. Wilson & Associates are here to help.

Differences Between Optometrist, Optician, and Ophthalmologist

The health of your eyesight significantly depends on working with the correct eye doctor in Calgary. If you need your eyes checked, ensure to have the proper eye doctor for your needs.

There are three types of eye specialists, namely optometrists, opticians, and ophthalmologists. However, the degree of knowledge and skills that each of them possesses do greatly vary from one another. To make you well-informed, we created a brief description of each eye specialist below:


To be a Doctor of Optometry, one must finish a 3-4 year Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc.) and a 4-year Doctor of Optometry degree (O.D.). When that is finished, they must successfully pass the Canadian National Optometry Board Exam.

Optometrists provide the vast majority of primary vision care services in Alberta. They:

  • Examine, assess, measure and diagnose disorders and diseases of the human visual system, the eye and its associated structures.
  • Conduct research and promote education in the vision sciences.
  • Prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses and low vision devices.
  • Diagnose, treat and manage binocular and perceptual vision disorders.
  • Treat, manage and correct disorders and diseases of the human visual system, the eye and its associated structures.
  • Recognize and detect related systemic conditions.
  • Must maintain their skill set and level of competency by completing the requirements of the Continuing Competence Program through continuing education courses, participating in an on-site practice review on a regular basis and practicing a minimum number of days in each 3-year competency period.


They work in a retail optical dispensary. A Optician can design, fit and dispense eyeglasses and contact lenses prescribed by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.


Their training includes a medical degree specializing in eye surgery and secondary vision care consultations the scope of their education requires obtaining a Bachelor of Science (BSc) a 4 year medical degree and an additional 5 year residency. Typically they do not provide primary vision care services although they can prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses.

We hope we have educated you on the differences between an Optometrist, Optician and a Ophthalmologist. If you require a Optometrist, contact us for more information or to book an appointment online.

How To Protect Your Eyes From Pollen

Allergy season in Calgary is upon us and it can feel never ending to those who suffer the symptoms of allergies including itchy, red eyes. Spring brings tree and flower pollen. As Summer arrives those irritants are joined by grass and weed pollen in the Fall. Red, itchy eyes, burning and stinging are the result, even more so for those living in the warmer parts of the city.

We want you to be able to enjoy the outdoors in Calgary so we wanted to give you some tips on how to protect your eyes from pollen.

Ways to Protect Your Eyes From Pollen

Stay informed by monitoring pollen counts on Calgary weather channels or news broadcasts so you can know when counts are unusually high. During these times try to limit your time outdoors as well as the following suggestions:

  • Have someone cut your grass whenever possible
  • Limit exposure to wooded areas
  • Close doors and windows and use air conditioning if you have it, be aware that allergens are spread through the air in your home, and could be circulated  via the air conditioner’s  filter. Severe reactions may be a sign not to use the air conditioning unit at this time.
  • Consider purchasing a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter which is more effective at removing allergens from the air in your home.

These measures are the first in trying to control seasonal allergies. But often times you will not be able to avoid them. What to do then?

There are many over the counter medications and eye drops to help flush out and soothe itchy, red eyes. Eye drops usually contain antihistamines and decongestants to help calm the irritation brought on by allergens. Some people who are affected may consult their Doctor about possible allergy drugs if they cannot experience relief from no prescription drugs.

Scheduling an appointment with your Optometrist might be a good idea for an exam to rule out any other problems that might be causing your discomfort. The Optometrist can offer suggestions, especially for those who wear contacts. The discomfort is your body defending itself from these invaders, whether you use over the counter or prescription drugs there is no reason to miss out on any of the fun due to allergies.

If you are struggling with allergies and need to see a Dr. Alex G. Wilson & Associates, contact us today and we’ll have an eye exam done to rule out any other problems.