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2017 Great American Eclipse

(From the American Society of Retina Specialists by Geoffrey G. Emerson, MD, PhD  and Robert W. Wong, MD)

Don’t Get Burned by the 2017 Great American Eclipse

On August 21, 2017, North America will witness a rare total solar eclipse as the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, blocking daylight for several minutes. The last eclipse of this magnitude was in 1918, and weather permitting, it promises to be an incredible event if viewed safely.

During the eclipse, the moon’s coverage of the sun will be partially visible from most of the United States. In order to see the moon cover the sun completely, you’ll have to be in the so-called “Path of Totality,” which is a 70-mile-wide strip extending diagonally across the country from Oregon to South Carolina (Figure 1), crossing the major cities of Jackson Hole, WY; St. Louis, MO; Nashville, TN; and Charleston, SC. The total eclipse is predicted to last about 2 minutes, and detailed predictions of start time per location are available from eclipse2017.nasa.gov.

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Summer Eye Care

Summer Eye Care

The next time you pack your bag for the beach, there are two items that are just as important as a bottle of sunblock: a hat and sunglasses.

Ultraviolet rays, classified as UVA and UVB, can not only wrinkle the skin they can damage the eye’s surface tissues, as well as the cornea and the lens. The sun can accelerate the formation of cataracts, pterygium (a non-cancerous growth over the cornea), skin cancer of the eyelids, and even result in an early form of age-related macular degeneration. Sunlight reflected off sand and water can cause photokeratitis, which is responsible for snow blindness.

Wear Sunglasses and a Hat

Sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats can dramatically reduce sun-related eye damage. However, don’t choose just any pair of sunglasses.

According to a national Sun Safety Survey conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, only about half of people who wear sunglasses say they check the UV rating before buying. Look for sunglasses that are affiliated with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which creates uniform testing standards and guidelines for a variety of products. Choose wraparound styles so that the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.

Don’t Forget the Kids

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 80 percent of a person’s lifetime UVR exposure happens before age 18. Children are far more likely to spend time playing outside, particularly during the warmer months. Children’s eyes are more vulnerable to UV rayss because the lens of a child allows 70% more UV rays to reach the retina than in an adult. This may put them at increased risk of developing debilitating eye diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration as adults. Try to keep kids out of direct sunlight during the middle of the day. Make sure they wear sunglasses and hats whenever they are in the sun.

Be Extra Cautious in UV-Intense Conditions

Sunlight is strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., at higher altitudes and when reflected off water, ice or snow. Don’t be fooled by the clouds. The sun’s rays can pass through clouds and can damage the eyes any time of the year, not just the summer. If you wear UV-blocking contact lenses, you still need to wear sunglasses.

Use Goggles at the Pool

The sun isn’t the only summertime culprit for eye damage. The chlorine, designed to protect you from exposure to germs, has the potential to hurt your eyes. In particular, chlorine can damage the integrity of the corneal epithelium, which protects your cornea from irritants and pathogens. This can lead to an increased likelihood of corneal abrasion or other eye injuries. The simplest solution for protection is to wear goggles every time you swim in a pool. This also applies to swimming in the ocean or other natural bodies of water, as they contain other contaminants that may hurt your eyes.

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Get Your Eyes Checked for Melanoma Awareness Month

Get Your Eyes Checked for Melanoma Awareness Month

Peter Liggett, M.D., a Hilton Head retina specialist, joins with the Melanoma Research Foundation to urge the public to get a dilated eye exam with your eye care professional. Melanoma not only occurs on the skin but it also occurs within the eye. Ocular melanoma is the most common form of eye cancer in adults.

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Living with Low Vision

Living with Low Vision

Peter Liggett, M.D.

Two local men with vision impairment will lead a seminar called “Living with Low Vision,” designed to educate and encourage others with vision problems.

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Seminar at Sun City

Seminar at Sun City

Peter Liggett, M.D., a retina specialist on Hilton Head, will conduct an educational seminar, “What You Need to Know About Macular Degeneration,” at 10 a.m. Monday, November 14th in the Colleton River Room at Sun City Hilton Head. This event is open to Sun City Hilton Head residents only.

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