Importance of UV Protection for The Eyes

woman enjoy summer vacation on the beachYou know how important it is to protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. UV protection is why you slather on sunscreen when you’re out in the sun and stay inside when the sun is at its peak. But what are you doing for your eyes? UV protection for eyes is equally important, yet many people don’t give it much thought. Here, we’ll discuss the best UV eye protection to preserve your vision and protect the health of your eyes.

Why is UV eye protection so important? The sun can negatively affect your eyes in a variety of ways. Photokeratitis is like sunburn of the eye. Overexposure to UV radiation in a short time frame can cause this painful condition, which causes symptoms like extreme sensitivity to light and the feeling of a foreign body or grit in the eyes. It can also cause red eyes and excessive tearing. Photokeratitis can be caused by looking directly at the sun, or by light reflecting off of water, snow, ice, or sand, and it’s often not noticed until after the damage has already been done.

While intense UV exposure can cause immediate damage, long-term exposure is equally harmful. Pinguecula is a condition resulting from long-term exposure to the sun, resulting in a tiny, non-cancerous yellowish bump on the conjunctiva. This can cause redness, swelling, burning, itching, dryness, blurred vision, and a gritty feeling. Pterygium, or surfer’s eye, is also caused by prolonged sun exposure, and also causes a growth on the conjunctiva. This growth can be reddish, pinkish, or yellowish, and may start out as a pinguecula but can then grow large enough to obstruct part of the cornea and permanently damage vision.

The leading cause of blindness worldwide is cataracts, and a cataract can form as the result of years of UV light exposure, which causes protein to clump and thicken in the lenses. This makes everything look less colorful and causes things to seem hazy or blurry. Cataracts can also cause double vision, sensitivity to light, and poor night vision. Another common condition caused by extended sun exposure is macular degeneration, which occurs when UV radiation causes wear on the central part of the retina. While macular degeneration does not typically result in blindness, it is the leading cause of vision problems in people over 50.

How can you prevent these problems? To start, choose UV protection sunglasses. In the best sunglasses, UV protection will block 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation. Gray lenses will help with accurate color recognition, and if you participate in outdoor work or sports that could damage your eyes, the lenses should be made from polycarbonate or Trivex® material. UV protection glasses should also screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light, and wrap around frames can offer additional protection. Pair your sunglasses with a broad brimmed hat, and you’ll protect both your eyes and your skin!

Talk to your eye doctor about the right UV protection sunglasses for you. If you’re looking for an ophthalmologist or optometrist in Derry, Londonderry, or Windham, Spindel Eye Associates is here for you. Having spent over 35 years providing eye care in New Hampshire, we proudly provide our patients with personalized eye care, using top of the line technology. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 603.421.6536 or contact us through our website.