UV damage to the eyes can be immediate and cumulative. When it comes to protecting yourself against the sun’s rays, it doesn’t end with covering your body with suntan lotion. You need to take care of your eyes, just as you would the rest of your body.
UV rays, which are invisible, can cause the following eye problems:
Cataracts, which is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, and is the most common cause of blindness. This is the part of the eye that focuses the light we see.
Corneal sunburn (or photokeratitis), which is the result of high short-term exposure to UV-B rays, usually after spending long hours outside during the summer without proper eye protection. These burns can be painful and may cause temporary vision loss.
Macular Degeneration, which is a leading cause of vision loss among older people, causing loss of vision in the center of the visual field.
Pterygium, which is a growth that begins on the white of the eye and may involve the cornea. The growth may eventually block vision and is common among people who spend considerable time in the sun and wind.
Those most at risk of sun-related eye problems are those who spend long hours in the sun, have had cataract surgery or certain retina disorders, or are on such medications as tetracycline, sulfa drugs, diuretics or tranquilizers that increase the eye’s sensitivity to light.
There are two types of UV radiation: UV-A, which has lower energy and penetrates deep into the eye, with the potential to injure the macula – the part of the retina responsible for sight in the center field of vision; and UV-B, which tends to be more dangerous and is absorbed by the cornea and lens of the eye and can damage those tissues.
When out in the sun, regardless of the time of year, wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap and appropriate UV-rated sunglasses. Wrap-around sunglasses are the best because they protect your eyes and the skin around them.
All types of eyewear, including prescription and non-prescription glasses, contact lenses and lens implants, should absorb UV-A and UV-B rays. For UV protection in everyday eyewear, there are several options like UV-blocking lens materials, coatings and photochromic lenses.
As a rule when choosing sunglasses, make sure they reduce glare, filter out 99 to 100 percent of UV rays and are comfortable to wear. Only buy sunglasses that provide a clear statement about how much UV radiation is blocked.
By Renee Smith|2020-05-29T12:21:08-07:00May 29th, 2020|