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How to Protect Your Eyes from UV

Protect Your Eyes from Harmful UV Rays

asian-teensunglasses-close-upWhile it may be enjoyable to sit outdoors and soak up the sun on a warm, bright day, it’s critical to be aware that the sun is also the source of dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays are harmful to both the inner structure of your eyes and the delicate outer tissues around your eyes. Leaving your eyes unprotected from UV light may cause short and long-term damage that leads to vision loss. (Note that UV rays are also generated by artificial sources, such as tanning beds and welding machines.) At Temecula Valley Optometry, in Temecula, CA, we encourage all of our patients to be proactive about eye protection!

Negative Effects of Short Exposure to UV Rays

Exposure to UV rays over short periods of time will usually lead to photokeratitis. This is described as getting a corneal sunburn, and it can be painful. Symptoms include a gritty sensation in your eyes, the feeling of having a foreign body stuck in your eyes, redness, sensitivity to light and extra tears. Photokeratitis is generally a temporary condition that doesn’t harm your eyes permanently.

Damage Caused by Long Exposure to UV Rays

Extended exposure to UV radiation is associated with a higher risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts or eyelid cancer in the future. Scientists cannot conclude exactly how much exposure to UV rays is necessary to cause these damaging conditions, and therefore it’s strongly recommended to always protect your eyes with eyeglasses and/or sunglasses that provide high level UV protection.

Macular Degeneration is a primary cause of vision loss in adults over age 50. This condition progresses gradually as the macula deteriorates, causing central vision to be blurry. UV-A rays are known to be responsible for many cases of macular degeneration.

Eyelid Cancer includes a multitude of different cancers, all of which can spread to the eye and surrounding tissues. Damage to your vision and eyes is caused. When left without treatment, these cancers may spread to the brain. However, when diagnosed and treated at an early stage, surgery and follow-up treatment has a high success rate. UV radiation increases the risk of cancers that affect the eyelids.

Cataracts refer to a clouding of the clear lens of your eye, thereby negatively impacting the eyes ability to focus and provide sharp eyesight. When untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness, and statistics blame up to one-fifth of all cataracts on UV exposure.

Protect Your Eyes with Sunglasses & Eyewear

Not all sunglasses are made equal. To act as an effective barrier between your eyes and harmful ultraviolet radiation, sunglasses need to block out 99% to 100% of UV-A and UV-B radiation. They should also filter out 75% to 90% of visible light. It is preferable that the lenses are matched perfectly in tint, and in good condition, with no imperfections, scratches or distortion. Gray lenses are best for allowing you to recognize colors properly.

When shopping for sunglasses, don’t forget your children! Kids and teenagers spend plenty of time outdoors in the sun, and their eyes are just as vulnerable to damage from UV rays.

If your occupation has you working with hazardous tools outside, or you regularly engage in outdoor sports, we advise that your sunglasses be constructed from Trivex or polycarbonate. Both of these materials are highly durable and impact resistant. Wraparound styles are particularly efficient at providing ultimate protection.

Some contact lenses also offer a layer of UV protection. In addition, a wide-brimmed hat is a great idea for shielding your eyes and delicate facial skin from the sun. For more information about preventive care measures that you can take for your eyes, contact us at Temecula Valley Optometry, located in the Palomar Shopping Center, in Temecula, CA. We look forward to helping you maintain healthy eyes and vision!

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