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UV Awareness Month – The Sun and Your Eyes

 

Thanks to efforts to create awareness of the dangers of Ultraviolet (UV) exposure to your skin, (particularly sunburn and skin cancer), most know about the importance of applying UV blocking sunscreen and using other forms of sun protection particularly during the blazing summer months. What is less known is that UV and other types of radiation from the sun also pose a danger to your eyes.

If you are considering leaving the house without sunglasses, think about this: Extended exposure to harmful UV radiation has been shown to cause damage to the eye.

Risks of UV Eye Exposure

Exposure to excessive amounts of ultraviolet radiation over a short interval can lead to a ''sunburn on the eye'', which results in pain, blurry vision or even temporary blindness. In the long run, UV exposure can cause more threatening eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can be a threat to vision. Individuals that come into frequent contact with welding machines, tanning beds and lasers are also at heightened risk of exposure to UV radiation.

UV Eye Protection

For effective UV protection, sunglasses should keep out 100 percent of ultraviolet radiation. Stick with sunglasses labeled ''UV 400'', which means that they block all UV light from entering your eyes (400 refers to the wavelength of light in nanometers).

The size of your sunglasses is also important. Wraparound sunglasses can block harmful ultraviolet light from coming in through the sides and back of the frame.

Individuals whose work or recreation involves extensive exposure to light from the sun are at the highest risk for damage to their eyes. Ultraviolet radiation can be reflected from bright surfaces such as snow, water, and white sand and poses the most threat from 10 am to 3 pm and throughout the summer. UV radiation levels increase nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. Every individual should speak to an optometrist and to know the risks for UV exposure. Simply putting on your sunglasses can be the answer to protecting your precious eyesight.