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Summer Safety: The Dangers of UV Radiation On Healthy Vision

July 10, 2012

For July’s UV Safety Month, we are sharing the dangers of UV Rays on our eyes.

The summer of 2012 has so far been one of the hottest on records as far as humidity, temperature and heat indexes go. In fact, the rising UV Index that was developed by the National Weather Service has made many people all across the country more aware than ever of the risks that the sun’s dangerous ultraviolent (UV) radiation can bring to our skin and our health.

However, while many people know to load up on sunscreen and keep in the shade whenever the temperature rises, not many people understand how much UV and other radiation from the sun can also harm your eyes.

Any person, child or adult, who spends time outdoors this summer is putting themselves at risk for eye problems from UV radiation. This radiation consists of invisible rays that come down from the sun, but can easily burn the front of the surface of the eye, much like a sunburn would on the skin. The risks of eye damage from UV exposure can also change from day to day and differ depending on factors such as geographic location, altitude, time of day, etc.

During July’s UV Safety Month, we here at OCLI will be doing our part to share more information about the danger imposed on our eyes through UV rays, as well sharing tips on proper preventative measures that you can take to ensure healthy vision all summer long.

The Dangers of UV Radiation To Our Vision

There are three different types of UV radiation: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC rays are the highest energy TV rays and could potentially be the most harmful. Fortunately, the atmosphere’s ozone layer blocks virtually all UVC rays. However, exposure to UVA and UVB rays can have adverse effects on your eyes and vision. Short- and long-term exposure to these dangerous rays can cause significant damage.

Exposure to UV radiation over a short amount of time can lead to many vision problems, including an effect called photokeratitis. Photokeratitis is an inflammation of the cornea caused by brief exposure to UV rays. Like a sunburn of the eye, this experience can be painful and may create symptoms such as red eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing.

Long-term exposure to UV radiation can be a lot more serious, including an increased chance of developing cataracts, permanent damage to the retina and chronic eye disease.

Protecting Your Eyes Against UV Radiation

The best way to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays (apart from staying inside, away from the sun) is to always wear good quality sunglasses. To protect your vision from harmful solar radiation, sunglasses should block 100% of UV rays. Frames that feature a wrap-around style also add another layer of protection, since they limit how much sunlight can reach the eye.

The risk of damage that occurs to our eyes and skin from UV radiation is also cumulative, meaning that the danger levels continue to grow as we spend more time in the sun throughout our lifetime. Therefore, it is very important that you also ensure that your kids are protecting their eyes from the sun. In fact, experts say that nearly 50% of our lifetime occurs by the age 18, given that children spend a lot more time outdoors than most adults.

If you need help choosing a pair of sunglasses that will provide quality vision assistance, as well as protect against the dangers that UV radiation can bring, be sure to talk to your optician about finding lenses that provide 100% UV protection. We here at OCLI want to ensure a safe and happy summer season, and that starts with healthy vision.

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