Thanks to measures to create awareness of the dangers of Ultraviolet (UV) exposure to your skin, (such as sunburn and skin cancer), most are familiar with the need for applying sunscreen and avoiding direct contact with the sun particularly during the blazing summer months. But how many of us know that ultraviolet rays and other harmful types of radiation from the sun are also a risk to your eyes?
If you are thinking of going outside without proper eye protection, think again. Extended contact with the sun's ultraviolet rays has been seen to be a cause of eye damage.
UV Eye Damage
Exposure to large levels of ultraviolet radiation over a short interval is known to cause photokeratitis meaning a ''sunburn of the eye'', leading to 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 cause vision loss. Just like the real thing, tanning beds pose a substantial threat of overexposure to UV.
How to Choose Protective Sunglasses
To protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays, you should look for sunglasses that keep out 100 percent of UV radiation. Stick with sunglasses that specify they are ''UV 400'', which indicates that they block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers (which includes both UVA and UVB rays, both known to enter the atmosphere).
The size of your sunglasses is also important. Wraparound sunglasses can block harmful UV light from entering from the sides and back of the frame.
People whose regular activity involves extensive exposure to light from the sun are at the highest risk for UV eye damage. Ultraviolet radiation can be reflected from bright surfaces such as snow, water, and white sand and presents the greatest risk from 10 am to 3 pm and throughout the summer months. Exposure to UV becomes more substantial nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. Every individual should speak to an optometrist and to be aware of the risks for UV exposure. The simple act of wearing your sunglasses can be the answer to protecting your precious vision.