The importance of wearing sunscreen and protecting our skin has become a priority in the summer months, but we are forgetting to also protect something else. Our eyes! Did you know that the second you walk out into the sun without sunglasses, you are instantly damaging your eyes? With vision being one of our most precious senses you would think that we would try to do everything we can to protect them.
There are two types of UV rays that we need to protect our eyes from:
UVA – Causes damage to your central vision
UVB – Causes damage to the cornea and the lens
UV rays are invisible rays that are emitted from the sun and can cause skin cancer as well as eye diseases. These rays are known to play a big role in the progression of cataracts, which is when the lens becomes cloudy and can hinder with your vision. Exposure to UV rays also puts your eyes at risk for:
- Macular Degeneration: This disease results in loss of vision and is caused by damage to the retina
- Photo Keratitis (corneal sunburn): a burn of the cornea, which can be painful and is caused by exposure to UV rays
- Pterygium: This is a growth of tissue that can develop over the cornea and can interfere with your vision
- Skin Cancer: Exposure to UV rays can even cause damage to our thin-skinned eyelids
How do we protect our eyes from these harmful UV rays?
The answer is simple. Wearing sunglasses is the easiest and most efficient way to protect your eyes from the sun. Making it a habit to wear sunglasses all year round can make a significant difference on the health of your eyes. Wearing a wide brimmed hat is also an addition to protecting our eyes from the sun that comes from above, which sunglasses cannot do.
Sunglasses have become more of a fashion statement than a method of protecting our eyes. Just because you may be wearing sunglasses, doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting all the protection that your eyes need. When shopping for sunglasses always ensure that they offer 99-100% UV protection. This information is usually found on a label on the lens. If you don’t see any labeling, chances are they do not offer any protection to begin with! Additionally, if your eyes are sensitive to harsh glares you may want to consider polarized lens. Although they do not offer any additional UV protection they can help with those who are bothered by glares therefore reducing the strain on our eyes. Lastly, for the sake of your eyes and your skin, try to limit the amount of time you spend under the sun, especially between 10am and 4pm when the sun is the strongest.
Follow these tips and you are on your way to a lifetime of healthy eyes and vision. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the safety of your eyes this summer, feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to help.