Eye damage caused by UV Radiation:
- Cataract: Cataracts are opacities formed in the natural lens often caused by long term exposure to UV radiation. Lens opacities can potentially decrease vision.
- Macular degeneration: chronic UV exposure may contribute to the aging processes in the retina, including the sensitive centre of the retina, called the macula, leading to macular degeneration and poor vision.
- Pterygium: is a fleshy growth on the white part of the eye that may extend onto the clear cornea where it can block vision. It presents most commonly in people who work outdoors in the sun and wind, and is correlated to the amount of UV exposure.
Cancer of the skin, including the eyelids and facial skin, is a well-known consequence of excessive UV exposure.
Photokeratitis is reversible sunburn of the cornea resulting from excessive UV-B exposure. It occurs from spending long hours on the beach or snow without UV sun protection. It can be extremely painful for 1-2 days and can result in temporary loss of vision.
Ways to protect your eyes from UV Radiation:
- Protection from sunlight can be obtained by using a brimmed hat and UV absorbing eyewear. Ultraviolet absorbing eyewear provides the greatest measure of UV protection, particularly if it has a wraparound design to limit entry of peripheral rays.
- Ideally all types of eyewear, including prescription spectacles and some contact lenses should absorb most of the UV spectrum. Labels should be examined carefully to insure that the lenses purchased absorb at least 99-100% of UVA and UVB light.
- Look for sunglasses that are close-fitting or wrap-around sunglasses to prevent light from entering in.
- Don’t be misguided by price — higher priced sunglasses usually reflect fashion or durability, not UV protection.
- Dark-colored sunglasses don’t necessarily provide better protection. A chemical coating applied to the lens is responsible for UV protection, not the lens color.