It's a fact that basically everybody is exposed to UV rays. However, the risks of years of exposure to these harsh rays are not often thought about, and most people take little action to protect their eyes, even when they're planning to be outside for an extended period of time. UV overexposure is unsafe and cannot be reversed, and can also lead to several severe, vision-stealing conditions in older age. And so, continuing protection from UV rays is a must for everyone.
UV radiation, which originates mostly from the sun, consists of two types of damaging rays: UVA and UVB. Even though only small measures of UVA and UVB light reach the inner eye, the ocular tissue is extremely susceptible to the damaging effects of their rays. Even in the short term, small amounts of exposure can lead to sunburn of the eye, also known as photokeratitis. When the cornea receives UVB rays, the outer cells are destroyed, which can be expressed as pain, blurred vision or temporary blindness. UVA rays actually permeate the eye much deeper, causing harm to the retina. Of the 20 million people suffering from cataracts, about 20 percent of cases are caused by extended UV exposure.
An ideal way to protect your eyes from UV rays is through the use of high quality eyewear. Ensure that your sunglasses or prescription eyewear block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. An insufficient pair of sunglasses can actually be worse than using nothing at all. Consider this: when sunglasses offer no protection against UV, it means you're actually getting more UV rays. Such sunglasses will reduce the light, causing the iris to open and allow even more light in. And this means that even more UV will be hitting the retina. Always be sure that your sunglasses provide maximum UV protection.
Wearing a wide brimmed hat or baseball cap can also block roughly half of UV rays. These hats may also limit UV rays hitting the eyes from above or around glasses.
Talk to your eye care professional about the various UV protection options, including, but not limited to, adaptive lenses, polarized lenses and fixed tint sunglasses.