Due to efforts to create awareness of the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation to your skin, (particularly sunburn and skin cancer), most know about the need for using sunblock and using other forms of sun protection particularly during the blazing summer months. What is less known is that UV and other harmful types of radiation from the sun can also cause severe damage to your eyes.
If you are considering leaving the house without sunglasses, reconsider. Prolonged exposure to the sun's ultraviolet light has been seen to be a cause of eye damage.
UV Eye Damage
Intense short term exposure to UV can cause photokeratitis meaning a ''sunburn on the eye'', leading to pain, blurred vision or even temporary blindness. In the long run, UV exposure can cause more threatening eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can cause vision loss. Just like the real thing, tanning beds present a substantial threat of overexposure to UV.
Selecting UV Protective Sunglasses
To shield your eyes from harmful UV rays, sunglasses should block 100 percent of ultraviolet radiation. Look for shades 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).
You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Sunglasses with side protection can block harmful UV light from coming in through the rear of the sunglasses.
Individuals whose work or recreation involves lengthy exposure to sunlight are at the highest risk for UV eye damage. Ultraviolet radiation 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. UV radiation levels increase nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. It's recommended that you speak to an eye doctor and to be aware of the risks for UV exposure. Simply putting on your sunglasses can be the key to saving your precious vision.