Prolonged or frequent exposure to UV light can be damaging, not only to our skin but our eyes too. It is for this reason that eye doctors recommend that all patients take steps to properly protect their eyes from the harmful effects of the sun, particularly if they work or participate in activities where they spend a great deal of time outdoors. To help protect their long-term eye health and vision, eye doctors everywhere are keen to remind patients of the importance of eye protection against harmful UV rays.
There are two types of UV damage that we need to protect our eyes. These are UVA and UVB. You may have heard of UVC rays too, but these are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and never actually reach our skin or eyes. UVB rays are the most well-known, being responsible for causing sunburn to our skin, including the delicate skin around our eyes. UVB radiation can also cause damage to our cornea and the natural lens of the eye. Meanwhile, UVA is the deepest penetrating type of radiation and, without protection, will impact your central vision by damaging the macula, which is an important part of your retina in the back of your eye.
The only way of avoiding UV damage is to ensure that you use adequate protection in the form of sunglasses that are proven to block out the harmful effects of the sun.
If you don’t properly protect your eyes from UV light, over time you could experience a range of different problems, some of which can seriously affect the health of your eyes and the quality of your vision. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Macular degeneration: degeneration of the macular that affects our central vision
- Cataracts: a clouding of the natural lens of the eye
- Pterygium: a growth that forms on the eye
- Corneal sunburn
- Cancer of the skin of the eyelids
The most effective way to protect your eyes from UV damage is to think carefully about the type of sunglasses that you choose. Not all sunglasses are created equal and there are many, especially cheap versions that you can pick up at places like gas stations and grocery stores, that do not offer adequate protection against UV rays.
Any good sunglasses will have been tested to check just how much UV light they protect against and should have a sticker or label that attests to their UV-blocking capability. Always choose a variety that blocks out 99-100% of UV light as this will give your eyes the greatest protection. It is also important to consider the style of sunglasses that you buy, as some shapes will offer greater protection against UV damage than others. For example, those with thin arms and narrow lenses will offer only a very small amount of protection while over-sized lenses or wraparound frames will also stop the majority of UV light seeping in the sides of your glasses and getting to your eyes that way.
A hat is a great addition to sunglasses in that if you choose one with a brim, it will provide an additional degree of protection to your eyes. Studies estimate that a wide-brimmed hat will block around 50% of the UV rays that you are exposed to, particularly those that might otherwise creep over the top of your sunglasses and reach your eyes.
If you would like more advice on how to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of UV rays, our dedicated and knowledgeable team would be happy to help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to speak to us or to schedule an appointment.