The Aug. 7 article, "Shades," rightly called attention to the growing realization that sunglasses should provide protection against unnecessary radiation damage, as well as comfort and style. However, this important message was blunted by the implication that the use of sunglasses to protect visual health was primarily a marketing device with little scientific basis.
In fact, there is substantial evidence that the high-energy components of sunlight (the ultraviolet and blue radiation) can damage the lens and retina of the eye. This damage, accumulated over many years, contributes significantly to the development of age-related cataract and macular disease.
The matter is far from trivial, since these are the two major causes of blindness in our country. It is widely recognized that aging and cancer of the skin are promoted by exposure to solar radiation; now it has been revealed that the delicate tissues of the eye are also at risk. It is important that the public be informed that there is a simple, safe and inexpensive way that we can protect our precious eyesight: wear the right kind of sunglasses.
RICHARD W. YOUNG
The writer is a professor of anatomy at the UCLA Medical School and a member of the Jules Stein Eye Institute.