May is Ultraviolet (UV) Awareness Month and, for that reason, a perfect time to talk about UV damage to eyes. Anyone who has had a sunburn is familiar with the harmful effects of UV rays on the skin. UV damage to eyes, however, seems to fly under the radar, even though it is also fairly common. Do your blinkers a favor and learn about the effects of UV damage to eyes and how they can be prevented.
What is UV light?
Ultraviolet, or “beyond violet,” light, is invisible to humans. Our eyes lack the proper color receptor to see UV light and the lens and cornea block light traveling at UV’s short wavelengths. Though we can’t see UV light, it still plays a role in our lives.
Earth’s atmosphere filters out most UV light, and some UV light can be helpful; humans need it to form vitamin D. Too much UV light, however, can damage not only your skin but also cause UV light eye damage as well.
UV damage to eyes and why UV light is bad for your eyes
It’s clear that UV light that makes it through earth’s atmosphere can cause UV damage to eyes. But why is UV light damaging to one’s eyes? Can UV rays go through your eyelids?
UV light is damaging to one’s eyes because of two different types of UV rays. The first, known as UV-A, can penetrate your lens and cornea and damage your retina, located at the back of your eye. UV-B rays are absorbed by the cornea and lens, but that isn’t necessarily better. UV-B rays can create more vision issues than UV-A rays over time.
All of these issues can arise even if you keep your eyes closed when outside. Our eyelids let in visible light (when you close your eyes, you can still tell if the sun is out or if a light is on), so they also let in UV rays.
Effects of UV damage to eyes
The UV light that manages to get through the atmosphere can burn eye tissue and cause UV damage to eyes. But does sun exposure cause cataracts? While the UV damage to eye symptoms and effects vary, all optometrists will tell you that UV light eye damage increases your risk for developing cataracts.
UV damage to eyes also increases your risk for developing eye cancer, macular degeneration, pterygium (pink tissue found on the white of the eye), and photokeratitis (temporary vision loss due to corneal sunburn).
Ways to avoid UV damage to eyes
It’s important to your eye health to use protection against UV light that makes it through the atmosphere and causes UV damage to eyes. Whether you’re wondering about how to prevent cataracts, how to avoid cataracts, or any of the other potential complications caused by UV damage to eyes, these tips might help.
- It’s not like you can slather sunscreen on your eyeballs, so wear sunglasses. Sunglasses that block 99-100% UV radiation work best.
- Wear a hat with a brim that keeps the sunlight (and UV rays) off of your face.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Proximity to the equator, elevation, the amount of shade, time of day, and some medications can all affect the level of UV exposure.
- Either stop or don’t pick up smoking, which speeds up the progress of UV-related eye damage.
- Go to the eye doctor; every year if you’re over 60, every two years if you’re under 60. Need help finding an optometrist? We’ve got you covered! Find a doctor near you today!
Proactive prevention of UV damage to eyes
Eye Center of Texas is committed to spreading awareness about UV damage to eyes. Trusted by over 275 Houston eye doctors, Eye Center of Texas delivers results. Whether you need a regular eye checkup or are researching cataract surgery in Houston and want to ask a professional, “Is cataract surgery safe?” schedule an appointment at Eye Center of Texas today and begin your journey towards protected and improved vision.