The majority of Americans are familiar with the dangers of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation to your skin, (particularly sunburn and skin cancer) and the necessity of using sunblock and using other forms of sun protection during outdoor activities. But did you know that UV and other harmful types of radiation from the sun are also a danger to your eyes?
If you tend to face the sun without proper eye protection, reconsider. Prolonged exposure to the sun's ultraviolet light has been seen to be a cause of eye damage.
Risks of UV Eye Exposure
Intense short term exposure to UV can lead to a ''sunburn of the eye'', leading to pain, blurred vision or even temporary vision loss. Long-term UV exposure can lead to more serious eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can cause vision loss. Those who use welding machines, tanning beds and lasers are also at heightened risk of exposure to UV radiation.
UV Eye Protection
For proper UV defense, you should be careful to select sunglasses that completely block all UV rays. Look for 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 ultraviolet light from entering from the rear of the sunglasses.
People whose regular activity involves extensive exposure to sunlight are at the most risk for damage to their eyes. UV can be reflected from areas such as snow, water, and white sand and poses the most risk from 10 am to 3 pm and throughout the summer months. UV radiation levels increase as you get closer to the equator and at high altitudes. Every individual should consult with an optometrist and to know the risks for UV exposure. Simply putting on your sunglasses can make a world of difference for your precious eyes.