The Danger of Prolonged Eye Exposure to UV Rays

Your eyes are the organs that get you through your daily routines. Despite their precarious placement, you don’t really put much thought into protecting them. For one, you may overlook the potential dangers that prolonged eye exposure to UV rays brings. It’s unfortunate, as UV rays are constant threats to vision and eye health. But it is not too late. Read on to explore the dangers of prolonged eye exposure to UV rays and the countermeasures that you can take.



Understanding UV Rays



UV rays are invisible components of the sun's energy spectrum. There are three of them—UVA, UVB, and UVC. The latter are typically absorbed by the earth's atmosphere, preventing them from reaching you. On the other hand, UVA and UVB rays can penetrate the atmosphere and cause significant damage to human skin and eyes.



The Impacts of UV Rays on the Eyes



Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can lead to different eye problems. The delicate eye tissues are vulnerable to UV damage. UV rays can cause photokeratitis, also known as sunburn of the eye. Photokeratitis is a painful condition. It results from excessive UV exposure. It causes redness, tearing, and a gritty sensation, although the symptoms usually resolve within a few days.



UV Exposure and Cataracts 



UV radiation is a leading cause of cataracts, the clouding of the lens. Over time, this clouding can cause blurry vision. Untreated cataracts may require surgical intervention.



UV Exposure and Age-related Macular Degeneration  


Prolonged UV exposure can contribute to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss among older adults. AMD affects the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for sharp vision.



UV Exposure and Pterygium  


UV radiation can lead to the development of pterygium, the growth of fleshy tissue on the white part of the eye. It can obstruct vision and require surgical removal if it becomes large enough.



Protection Measures Against UV Radiation



  • Wear sunglasses - Choose sunglasses that block 100% UVA and UVB rays. Look for labels indicating UV protection or consult an eye care professional to ensure the sunglasses are ideal

  • Broad-brimmed hats - Combine your sunglasses with a broad-brimmed hat to provide additional shade and protection for your eyes

  • UV-blocking contact lenses - If you wear contact lenses, opt for those that offer UV protection. Regular contact lenses do not provide enough shielding against UV rays. Consult your eye care professional about UV-blocking options

  • Seek shade - When outdoors, especially during peak UV hours, seek shade whenever possible. Doing so helps reduce direct exposure to the sun's harmful rays

  • Use sunscreen - Apply sunscreen around your eyes, including the eyelids, to protect the delicate skin from UV damage. It is typically between 10 in the morning and four in the evening

  • Limit tanning bed use - Tanning beds emit significant levels of UV radiation. It can harm your eyes and increase the risk of eye-related conditions. It is the best reason to avoid tanning beds altogether



Choosing the Right Sunglasses


Not all sunglasses are equal in protecting your eyes from UV radiation. Look for sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. The label should show the level of UV protection provided.


Polarized lenses reduce glare and enhance visual clarity. They are the best option for outdoor activities. However, they do not necessarily provide UV protection, so ensure they have UV-blocking properties as well.


Opt for sunglasses with large, wraparound frames that provide ample coverage for your eyes and the surrounding areas. These frames help minimize UV exposure from the sides. Lens color does not impact UV protection, but some tints can enhance visual comfort and contrast in specific environments. Choose colors that suit your preferences and activities.


For more on the danger of prolonged UV exposure to eyes, visit Optique Vision at our office in Albany, New York. Call (518) 302-2106 to book an appointment today.

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