Our eyes are extremely sensitive and if we are to maintain their health and our vision for as long as possible, we need to take adequate steps to protect them from the many hazards that could affect them. One of the greatest threats to them, particularly in summer, comes in the form of UV damage. UV - ultraviolet – radiation is produced by the sun all the time, even on cloudy days. However, in the summer we tend to spend more time outside, increasing the exposure of our eyes to harmful UV rays.
Too much UV is bad news for our eyes and vision. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to limit your exposure. To help you to know what steps to take, here are the most frequently asked questions we hear about UV protection – and of course, their answers!
There are three different types of UV light. These are UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC light never actually reaches us, but UVA and UVB do and both have the potential to damage our bodies and eyes in different ways. UVB light is the one that causes us to develop a suntan, or if we are overexposed, sunburn. It has also been associated with a number of eye problems including pinguecula, pterygium, and corneal sunburn. Meanwhile, UVA affects the inner layers of the skin and eyes, including areas responsible for sight such as the macula and retina. Excessive exposure could increase your risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts, and other sight-threatening conditions.
If you don’t ensure that your eyes are properly protected against UV light, you could be at increased risk of a variety of different ocular problems and conditions. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Corneal sunburn
- Macular degeneration
- Cancer of the skin around the eyes
By themselves, contact lenses don’t provide sufficient protection from UV damage, even if they have had a UV tint or filter added to them. They also don’t protect the delicate skin around the eyes from the effects of UV radiation. Therefore, if you wear contact lenses you will also need to wear sunglasses to ensure your eyes are fully protected.
There are countless different styles, shapes, and colors of sunglasses, but they don’t all offer the same amount of protection against UV damage. Any good brands will carry a label or sticker that denotes that they have been tested and will tell you just how effective they are at blocking UV light. For the best eye protection, choose sunglasses that are labeled as offering 100% protection against UV rays and wear them every time you go outside, even on cloudy-but-bright days.
You should also give some consideration to the style of sunglasses you choose. Thin frames and small lenses don’t provide much coverage against UV rays. For the best protection, choose oversized lenses, chunky frames, close-fitting or wraparound styles which let far less light in around them, keeping UV damage to a minimum.
In short, no. Darker tints can make it more comfortable to see when it is particularly bright out. However, they don’t necessarily afford you any greater protection. Always look for sunglasses with a label or sticker saying they are effective at blocking 100% UV light. If you want to boost your defenses against UV damage, consider wearing a baseball or wide-brimmed hat which will prevent light from seeping into your eyes from above the brow of your sunglasses.
UV damage is accumulative over time, which means it is never too early to start protecting your eyes. We recommend that you put a brimmed hat on your child from infancy, and when they are old enough, you insist that they wear sunglasses when outdoors.
If you would like more information about UV eye protection, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Omaha Primary Eye Care today.