20 Sep The Sun and Your Eyes
We spend a lot of time in the sun and over the years the importance of UV awareness has grown. It has become common knowledge that the UV rays from the sun can cause skin cancer but that is not the only harmful effect. The UV rays emitted from the sun can also cause havoc to your eyesight.
Possible consequences of UV exposure:
- Skin cancer around eyelids
- Cataracts, a cloudy lens in your eye – a leading cause of blindness
- Photokeratitis, corneal sunburn that can result in temporary vision loss
- Pterygium, abnormal pink tissue on the white of the eye
- Age Related Macular Degeneration [AMD], results in gradual vision loss over time
Types of UV rays:
UV-A radiation has lower energy and penetrates deep into the eye, which may injure the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sight in the center field of vision.
UV-B radiation is presumably more dangerous and is mainly absorbed by the cornea and lens of the eye and can damage those tissues.
Risk for developing UV ray related eye damage:
- Working long hours outdoors particularly during the greatest risk hours between 10:00 a.m. – 3 p.m. during summer months
- Family history of eye cancer
- Having light-colored eyes
- Spending time at the beach without sunglasses
- Not wearing sunglasses and hats outside, even on cloudy days
- Being around water, sand, snow, and ice without any eye protection
While it is impossible and impractical to avoid the sun and its UV rays entirely, it is possible to take simple and effective steps to protecting your eyes. Below are a few things you can do to help protect your eyes.
- Wear sunglasses that block 99-100% UV radiation
- Wear a brim hat that shields the face outdoors
- Get regular eye exams with an eye doctor every 2 years if you are younger than 60 (go every year if over 60)
- Do not smoke (smoking can cause UV radiation damage to progress quicker than with non-smokers)