This May is Ultraviolet Awareness Month
Thanks to education to increase knowledge of the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation to your skin, (particularly sunburn and skin cancer), most are aware of the need for lying UV blocking sunscreen and using other protective measures particularly during the blazing summer months. But did you know that UV and other harmful types of radiation from the sun also pose a threat to your eyes? If you often go out without proper eye protection, reconsider. Frequent absorption of the sun's UV light has been seen to be a cause of damage to the eye.
UV Eye Damage
Excessive short term exposure to UV can cause photokeratitis or a 'sunburn on the eye', leading to pain, blurred vision or even temporary vision loss. In the long run, UV exposure can cause more threatening eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, which can be a threat to vision. Those who use welding machines, tanning beds and lasers are also at increased risk of exposure to UV radiation.
How to Choose Protective Sunglasses
For proper ultraviolet defense, sunglasses should completely block all UV rays. Stick with shades that specify they are '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. Sunglasses with side protection can prevent harmful ultraviolet rays from entering from the sides and back of the frame. People whose work or recreation involves extensive exposure to sunlight are at the most risk for damage to their eyes.
Ultraviolet radiation can be reflected from bright areas 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 as you get closer to the equator and at high altitudes.
Every individual should consult with an optometrist and to be aware of the risks for UV exposure. Simply putting on your sunglasses can make a world of difference for your precious eyes.