Importance of UV Protection
Only 40 percent of all Americans say that protecting their eyes is the primary reason they wear sunglasses, according to a survey from the American Optometric Association (AOA). Only 28 percent of those surveyed said that UV protection was the most important factor in the purchase of sunglasses. These sunglass wearers may not realize that their eyes need protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Prolonged exposure to the sun may damage your eyes and potentially lead to a vision disorder. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage the skin of your eyelids along with your corneas, lenses, or other parts of your eyes. UV damage to eyes can be painful and slow to heal, so it is important to protect your eyes before UV damage occurs.
Exposure to excessive amounts of UV radiation can cause photokeratitis, which is like sunburn of your cornea. Photokeratitis is very painful and causes other symptoms, such as red eyes, a gritty sensation or feeling like there is a foreign body in your eye, extreme sensitivity to light and excessively watery eyes. Photokeratitis can occur in the summer, especially during a bright day at the beach, or in the winter months when light reflects off snow. Photokeratitis is usually temporary and rarely causes permanent eye damage.
In time, continual exposure to UV rays can seriously harm your eyes and may cause premature aging in your eyes. Chronic exposure to UV rays over months or years increases the risk for the development of cataracts, abnormal growths on the white of the eye, and even eye cancer. Long-term exposure may damage your retina and lead to macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in U.S. adults.
UV rays can also reflect from other surfaces, such as beach sand and white cement. The danger from UV ray exposure is even greater at higher elevations, like those experienced during skiing or hiking in the mountains, where the thin atmosphere does a poor job of filtering UV radiation.
Optometrist in Conway Suggest Ways to Protect Your Eyes from UV Radiation
For best eye safety results, our optometrist in Conway suggests that you wear sunglasses or contact lenses that offer UV protection. AOA suggests wearing sunglasses that block more than 95 percent of UV-A and 99 percent of UV-B light. Apply sunscreen around your eyes and wear a hat.
Our eye doctor recommends sunglasses that screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light, have gray lenses for proper color recognition and a frame that fits close to your eyes to prevent UV exposure from all sides.
Protect your child’s eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses at an early age. The lens of a child’s eye is more transparent than is an adult’s, and this transparency makes it easier for UV rays to enter a child’s eye. This means damage from UV rays starts when your child is still young.
For more information on the importance of UV protection for your eyes, make an appointment with our optometrist in Conway.