By now, most Americans are familiar with the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) light to your skin, (particularly sunburn and skin cancer) and the necessity of using sunscreen and avoiding direct contact with the sun when spending time in the sun. What is less known is that ultraviolet rays and other types of radiation from the sun also pose a threat to your eyes.
If you are considering leaving the house without proper eye protection, consider this: Frequent contact with harmful ultraviolet radiation has been linked to damage to the eye.
Risks of UV Eye Exposure
Excessive short term exposure to UV is known to result in a ''sunburn of the eye'', which results in pain, blurred vision or even temporary blindness. Long-term ultraviolet exposure can result in more threatening eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, which can be a threat to vision. Just like the real sun, tanning beds pose a serious risk of overexposure to UV.
UV Eye Protection
To protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays, sunglasses should block 100 percent of ultraviolet radiation. Look for sunglasses labeled ''UV 400'', which means that they prevent both UVA and UVB rays 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 UV rays from coming in through the rear of the sunglasses.
Individuals whose daily activity involves extensive exposure to sunlight are at the highest risk for damage to their eyes. Ultraviolet radiation can be bounced off of areas such as snow, water, and white sand and presents the most threat from 10 am to 3 pm and throughout the summer. Exposure to UV becomes more substantial nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. It's important to speak to an optometrist and to know the hazards of UV exposure. The simple act of putting on your sunglasses can be the answer to saving your precious eyesight.