The Effects of Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation On The Eyes
Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to eye damage as more than 99% of UV radiation is absorbed by the front of the eyes. Corneal damage, cataracts and macular degeneration are all possible chronic effects from UV exposure and can ultimately lead to blindness. Melanoma, a type of skin cancer can also develop within the eye.
Dangers of Ultraviolet Radiation to Your Eyes
- UVB rays. The front part of the eye absorbs most UVB rays.
- UVA rays. These can hurt your central vision. They can damage the macula, a part of the retina at the back of the eye.
To protect your eyes outdoors, proper eye protection which includes 100 per cent UV protection and hats that block UV rays, ideally broad rimmed hats, should be worn. UV rays come from many directions. They radiate from the sun but they are reflected off surfaces such as the ground, water, snow , sand and others.
- Risk factors of eye damage from UV:
- Time Anyone who spends a long time outdoors is at risk for eye problems from UV radiation, including children.
- Susceptibility Anyone who has had cataract surgery or retinal disorders.
- Medication. Anyone taking certain medicines such as tetracyclines, sulfa drugs, birth control pills, diuretics and tranquilizers that increase the eye’s sensitivity to light.
Kids Need UV Protection Even More Than Adults
Children should wear sunglasses in prolonged or intense sunlight — the beach, pool, sled and ski slopes . Infants and children lack pigment in the lens of the eye, which helps filter ultraviolet rays. Thus, more ultraviolet rays reach the retina of a baby than reach the retina of an adult. Infants under six months are usually protected adequately by hats, umbrellas and stroller canopies. A hat alone can cut the amount of ultraviolet exposure to a strolling toddler by 30 percent.
UV protection tips for your eyes
- Look for good quality sunglasses which block 100 percent of UV rays. Dark lenses do not necessarily mean UV protection. Protection lies in the UV coat and not in the colour of the lens
- Wear your sunglasses even in the shade or on cloudy days
- If you wear contact lenses opt for those which offer UV protection. These lenses do not however replace the need for sunglasses