Sunglasses and UV Light

What you should know about UV light

The summer sun may feel good, but did you know that its ultraviolet (UV) waves can harm your eyes? Damage can add up over the years and lead to various serious eye problems. Here’s a quick run-down of the dangers of UV exposure, and what you can do to avoid them.

The Dangers:

  • Increased risk of developing cataracts, a clouding of the lens of your eye
  • Increased risk of developing macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness
  • Photokeratitis, or “snow blindness”; you can also develop it from the intense sun glare off oceans, lakes, sand, and pavements
  • Skin cancer, which can affect the eyelids and areas around the eye as well as the rest of your body
  • Pterigia, an overgrowth of blood vessels and fibrous tissues in the white of your eye. This condition can damage vision and sometimes requires surgery
  • Pingueculum, a degenerative condition of the lubricated surface of your eye (the conjunctiva)

How You Can Protect Yourself:

  • Wear sunglasses with special coatings that block 100% of UV light
  • Wear contact lenses with UV-blocking polymers. Remember to wear sunglasses over them to protect the parts of the eye not covered by the contact lens
  • Wear a hat with a brim
  • Don’t be fooled by cloudy days; dangerous rays can pass through haze and think clouds, so you still need protection
  • Be especially careful between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. – the most dangerous time for exposure to UV light because the sun is strongest then.

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