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Keep Your Eyes Safe From The Sun

The health of pilots – the men and women who helm commercial and passenger aircraft – is one of the top safety components in the aviation industry. Pilots must be in excellent physical shape in order to ensure that their flights have positive outcomes.

When it's time for you to undergo your first or periodic flight physical examinations for you aviation medical certificates, turn to Charleston Flight Doc. Teresa (Terry) Sommese, MD, is a board-certified specialist in aerospace and occupational medicine, and an FAA senior aviation medical examiner. Her tests are for first-class airline transport, second-class commercial or third-class private.

With each candidate's vision being a central part of the physical examination, here are some ways to keep your eyes safe from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) light. The skin on the eyelid is very thin and contains many fragile tissues that can be injured by (UV) light no matter what season of the year.

Get regular eye exams. Eye deterioration from the sun can easily be spotted during a routine exam. If caught in time, future eye damage can probably be prevented.

Wear sunglasses year-round. The UV index can be dangerously high even on cloudy days. The sunglasses don’t need to be dark to offer protection -- neutral gray, amber, brown or green lenses block at least 80 percent of transmissible light.

Be “side”-minded. All protective eye wear should have a side shield protection or wrap around the eye so light cannot enter the eye from side reflections.

Check the label. Sunglasses labeled UV400 offer more than 95 percent UV protection, which is the recommended level of protection.

Double protection. Even if you wear contact lenses that offer UV protection, wear sunglasses anyway.

Dr. Sommese is an expert in her field. Schedule an exam at If a pilot needs to reach Dr. Sommese directly, he/she can call or text her at 703-623-9696. Or, email her at

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