Most of us know that ultraviolet radiation, or UV light as it is more commonly known, can be extremely harmful to our skin. It is for this reason that we rely on sunscreen to protect it when we go outside on bright, sunny days. However, UV damage doesn’t just stop with our skin, it can also affect our eyes. Prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been shown to be a contributing factor in the development of a number of ocular conditions including macular degeneration, cataracts and photokeratis, all of which can cause temporary loss of vision as well as other, debilitating symptoms.
Many of us are more reliant on our eyesight than any of our other senses, and it if becomes compromised, not only might we need to wear glasses or contact lenses to see more clearly, but we could also potentially run the risk of losing our eyesight altogether. Fortunately, there are a few things that we can do to protect our eyes and our long-term vision.
The best method of protecting your eyes from sun damage is to ensure that you wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays. This is important because there are several different types of UV light that can damage your eyes.
UVC rays deliver the highest amounts of energy from the sun. However, our earth’s atmosphere naturally blocks almost all UVC rays, preventing them from damaging our eyes and skin.
UVB rays are the most commonly known type of UV radiation. Although some degree of UVB rays are destroyed when entering our atmosphere, others still penetrate through to the earth where they can affect our skin. UVB is what is responsible for melanin production, which enables us to get a tan on sunny days. The cornea and lens of your eyes absorb the most UVB rays and can become damaged by them.
UVA rays have the lowest energy of all. However, they pass through the lens of your eye and your cornea and can cause damage to your retina which is the part of your eye responsible for determining what you see.
Although there are plenty of fashion sunglasses available, there is no guarantee that they will actually protect your eyes so make sure that you choose a variety that is capable of blocking all UV rays. Sun damage is most likely on days where the sun is shining brightly, but it can still occur on simply bright or even overcast days. For this reason, it is recommended that you wear your sunglasses as often as possible, particularly:
- if you live in an area near the equator where you are the closest to the sun
- if you are at high altitude since UV levels are greater the higher you are
- if you are outdoors a great deal, such as if you work as a gardener or in construction
- if you are outside during the middle part of the day when the sun is high in the sky and UV levels are high
- if you are in an environment where the sun might be reflected into your eyes, such as on the water or snow. This could as much as double the effects of UV damage.
Although sunglasses go a long way to protecting your eyes from sun damage, unless you wear wraparound styles there are probably gaps at the sides of your chosen sunglasses that enable some UV light to enter your eyes. You can help to counteract this by choosing to wear a hat with a brim, such as a baseball cap, when you are outdoors.
The earlier you start to protect your child’s eyes, the less likely they are to experience ocular problems as they get older. You can utilize Coppertone frames to aid in protection for your child. Researchers estimate that as much as 80% of our lifetime exposure to UV rays happens before we reach the age of 18. In addition, children’s eyes transmit a greater amount of UVA rays to the retina than adult’s do, significantly increasing their risk of developing eye conditions as they age.
If you would like more advice on the best ways to protect your eyes from sun damage, our dedicated and experienced team would be delighted to share their knowledge and expertise. Please contact our offices to schedule your consultation.