How to Prevent UV Eye Exposure During the Summer

Posted on: July 30, 2018

Apex and Zebulon eye doctor

UV Protection is so Important for Your Eyes

Did you know it’s just as imperative to shield your eyes from the sun’s damaging light as it is to protect your skin? The strong UV light of the sun can harm delicate cells in the eyes, potentially disturbing your vision and comfort. Specialists state that it is hard to determine the approximate amount of harm that UV rays inflict on the eye over an extended period. Conversely, numerous studies have proven that the consequences build up and may escalate the probability of developing eye issues later in life. These issues might involve cataracts, a blurring of the lens of the eye. According to the National Eye Institute, cataracts are a leading cause of blurry vision in America in people older than 60.

What exactly are UV Rays?

Going into the sunglasses department at your neighborhood store can be overpowering. Products can be branded with numbers and words that can baffle even the smartest people. But what do these words suggest and how do the words correlate to the quality of protection we receive? Let’s begin with ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet rays or radiation (e.g.- UV) is a type of hidden radiation produced by the sun that can change a cell’s DNA. UV rays are higher energy and shorter linked to visible light rays, which makes the UV rays more harmful to both your skin and eyes. The EPA or Environmental Protection Agency has created a UV index to educate the general public about the various kinds of UV radiation. In addition, both UVA and UVB rays have been connected to photokeratitis and solar retinopathy; also, known as the sunburn of the cornea and retina, respectively. UV rays can increase your risk of cancer of the eyes, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts. It is imperative to shield your eyes to prevent these diseases.

What Does Prevention Look Like?

  • Identify the signs. If you’re feeling a sudden pain, an irritated cornea, or an avoidance of light, see your eye doctor immediately.

  • Children are at high risk. It’s anticipated that about half of a lifetime contact to UV occurs before a person turns 18 years old! Keep kids younger than six months old out of strong sunlight (between 10 a.m.-4 p.m.). Make sure kids of all ages purchase sunglasses and hats for outdoor use think about using a large umbrella as a sun blocker when at the lake or beach. Lastly, make sure they do not stare directly at the sun!

  • Stay Educated. Get routine eye exams to supervise eye health, keep the optimal vision and keep informed of the latest in UV protection.

  • Avoid 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Stay out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.

  • Shield your eyes. Buy sunglasses that are 100% UV shielding against both UVB and UVA light, and are a tight-fitting style frame to assist in keeping light out. If you have prescription contact lenses, consider purchasing UV-blocking contact lenses for an added layer of UV protection. Furthermore, these steps help protect against:

    • Tissue growths on the surface of the eye
    • Age-related macular degeneration
    • Age spots
    • Corneal sunburn
    • Eyelid skin cancer
    • Cataracts
    • Damage to the retina

  • Avoid different kinds of UV radiation. Don’t gaze right at the sun and be cognizant of reflections from sand, water, and pavement. If you work outdoors, are a painter, lighting technician, hairdresser, or a welder be certain you’re “in the know” about possible risks and how to be aware of UV exposure.

Your doctor at NC Eye Associates can help make personalized recommendations to make sure your eyes are safe and to prescribe you the best pair of sunglasses. Booking a complete eye exam can pinpoint an early onset of eye-health issues and diseases related to UV exposure that may not have immediate symptoms.