Most Americans are familiar with the dangers of Ultraviolet (UV) exposure to your skin, (including sunburn and skin cancer) and the necessity of using sunscreen and using other protective measures particularly during the blazing summer months. What is less known is that UV and other types of radiation from the sun can also cause severe damage to your eyes.
If you often leave the house without proper eye protection, think again. Extended exposure to the sun's ultraviolet light has been seen to be a cause of damage to the eye.
UV Eye Damage
Exposure to large amounts of UV for a short interval can result in a ''sunburn of the eye'', which results in pain, blurred vision or even temporary vision loss. In the long run, UV exposure can result in 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 heightened risk of exposure to UV radiation.
Selecting UV Protective Sunglasses
To shield your eyes from harmful UV rays, sunglasses should completely block all UV rays. Stick with sunglasses 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).
You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Sunglasses with side protection can prevent dangerous UV rays from coming in through the rear of the sunglasses.
People whose daily activity involves extensive exposure to sunlight are at greatest risk for UV eye damage. Ultraviolet radiation can be reflected from areas such as snow, water, and white sand and presents the greatest risk from 10 am to 3 pm and throughout the summer months. UV radiation levels increase nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. It's recommended that you consult with an optometrist and to know the risks for UV exposure. Simply wearing your sunglasses can make a world of difference for your precious eyesight.