The majority of Americans are familiar with the dangers of Ultraviolet (UV) exposure to your skin, (particularly sunburn and skin
cancer) and the importance of applying sunblock and avoiding direct contact with the sun particularly during the blazing summer months. What is less known is that UV and other types of radiation from the sun are also a risk to your eyes.
If you often face the sun without proper eye protection, think about this: Continual absorption of harmful ultraviolet light has been seen to be a cause of eye damage.
Risks of UV Eye Exposure
Intense UV exposure over a short interval is known to lead to photokeratitis or a ”sunburn of the eye”, leading to pain, blurred
vision or even temporary blindness. In the long run, UV exposure can cause more serious eye diseases including 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 increased risk of exposure to UV radiation.
How to Choose Protective Sunglasses
For effective ultraviolet protection, sunglasses should block 100 percent of UV radiation. Look for sunglasses labeled ”UV 400”, which means that they prevent 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 prevent harmful ultraviolet light from entering from the rear of the sunglasses.
People whose daily activity involves lengthy exposure to light from the sun are at the most risk for UV eye damage. UV can be bounced off of bright areas such as snow, water, and white sand and poses the most threat during the midday hours and during the summer. Exposure to UV becomes more substantial as you get closer to the equator and at high altitudes. It’s important to consult with an eye care professional and to know the hazards of UV exposure. The simple act of putting on your sunglasses can be the answer to preserving your precious eyesight.