Thanks to campaigns to create awareness of the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) light to your skin, (such as sunburn and skin cancer), most are aware of the importance of using sunscreen and using other forms of sun protection during outdoor activities. What is less known is that ultraviolet rays and other harmful types of radiation from the sun are also a threat to your eyes.
If you are thinking of going outside without proper eye protection, think again. Frequent exposure to harmful UV rays has been shown to cause eye damage.
UV Eye Damage
Intense short term exposure to UV can lead to a ''sunburn of the eye'', leading to pain, blurred vision or even temporary vision loss. In the long run, UV exposure can lead to more serious eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, which can be a threat to vision. Just like the real sun, tanning beds present a serious risk of overexposure to UV.
How to Choose Protective Sunglasses
To shield your eyes from dangerous UV rays, sunglasses should keep out 100 percent of ultraviolet radiation. Stick with sunglasses labeled ''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 prevent dangerous ultraviolet rays from coming in through the rear of the sunglasses.
People whose work or recreation involves extensive exposure to sunlight are at greatest risk for damage to their eyes. UV can be bounced off of surfaces 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 nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. It's recommended that you speak to an eye doctor and to know the hazards of UV exposure. Simply putting on your sunglasses can be the answer to protecting your precious vision.