When we think of exfoliation, we normally think of facial scrubs and loofah to rub off dead skin cells, but there’s another kind of exfoliation: a harmful eye condition that increases the risk of cataracts and glaucoma as we age. New research conducted in Boston and Israel suggests wearing sunglasses could be a key way to prevent the condition called exfoliation syndrome. The study, published last Thursday in JAMA Ophthalmology, found that rates of exfoliation syndrome vary with latitude and ethnicity. Those of European descent who live far from the equator are at higher risk, said study leader Dr. Louis Pasquale, director of the glaucoma service at Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary.
People who work outdoors surrounded by highly reflective snow or water have nearly four times the risk of developing exfoliation syndrome, the study found. The finding was based on examining records of 118 patients with the syndrome at Mass Eye and Ear and 67 patients in Israel and comparing them with records of healthy counterparts of the same age.
Exfoliation syndrome occurs when a whitish flaky substance builds up on the lens of the eye and gets rubbed off as the eyeball moves, raising pressure in the eye, which increases the likelihood of glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness.
The study found Americans who donned sunglasses regularly when outdoors were at lower risk than those who didn’t. .