UV or Ultraviolet rays are harmful to your eyes. The amount of UV radiation reaching earth is increasing, which is why it is more important than ever to wear sunglasses. Sunglasses are not just created for the “cool factor”, they are a crucial part of healthy eyes. Because UV damage is cumulative, it is important to wear sunglasses every time you go outside. Even infants should be wearing sunglasses because their eyes have not begun to cloud yet and are more sensitive to light.
Types of Ultraviolet RaysThere are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. The most harmful of these are UVC rays, but thankfully, our atmosphere blocks virtually all of these rays from ever reaching the earth. UBV rays are shorter in wavelength, meaning they are lower energy. Small amounts of exposure cause our production of melanin -Our body’s natural defense against UV radiation (and the pigment that gives you skin a sun tan). High doses cause sunburn and increase your risk of wrinkles, freckles, premature aging, and skin cancer. UVA rays are perhaps the most detrimental to your eye health. These rays have the ability to pass through the cornea and reach the retina and lens of your eye. Overexposure can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration over time.
Common Light-related Eye Irritants
One of the most common eye irritations that can occur from exposure to excess amounts of UV radiation is photokeratitis. Photokeratitis is similar to that of a sunburn. The eye can feel itchy, have a burning sensation, or even have a gritty feeling. None of these symptoms are pleasant, but with the use of sunglasses, they can be prevented.
Your eyes are similar to your skin, if exposed to sunlight, they will get burned. This is how some people get cancer on their eyelids. Remember, even ten minutes outside at the right time of day can cause damage. Constant exposure to sunlight and other harmful light sources can cause macular degeneration later on in life.
People living in the mountains or one of the US Sunbelt states are at a higher risk of UV radiation damage. Tanning beds and sunlamps create artificial UV light and (contrary to some belief) still cause damage, possibly leading to skin cancer. Welders, medical technologists, graphics artists, and those who work in manufacturing electronic circuit boards are at risk of UV damage. If you have had cataract eye surgery or if you have a retinal disorder, your eyes can be more sensitive to harmful rays. Even certain medications can increase your eyes sensitivity to UV radiation.
What to Look for in Your SunglassesWhen deciding on a pair of sunglasses, there are a few things you should consider. Sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection provide the best protection and those that absorb most HEV rays are important. Also, close fitting sunglasses that slightly wrap to your face provide the best protection. Sunglasses should screen out 75-90 percent of visible light, this means those lighter tinted sunglasses may not be the best for long sunlight exposure.
At Infinite Eye Care, we have numerous options of sunglasses to choose from. We will help you find the ones that fit your face, provide the right exposure protection, and help you avoid problems later on in life. Visit our website for more information on the sunglasses we have in store.