It’s summertime – which means spending a lot more time outdoors. But while most of us will remember to wear sunscreen to protect our skin, it may be a little harder to remember that your eyes need protection, too.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are invisible beams of light emitted by the sun. North of the equator, they’re strongest during the late spring and early summer. These rays can cause inflammation, tissue damage, and cellular injury when they comes in contact with the delicate structures within your eyes.
In fact, excessive sun exposure and UV-related damage can lead to a variety of eye disease, such as:
- Photokeratitis, which is essentially an eye sunburn
- Inflammation of the cornea – appearing within a few hours of exposure
- Can be very painful, but damage isn’t usually long-term
- Pterygium, or “surfer’s eye”
- Growth of the conjunctiva on the surface of the eye
- May extend over the center of the cornea and reduce vision
- Can be removed with surgery
- Leading cause of blindness in the world
- Enhanced by exposure to UV rays
- Cancer of the eye
- Scientific evidence suggests links between different forms of ocular cancer and life-long sun exposure
For the health of your eyes and the integrity of your vision, it’s important to take eye sun safety seriously. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation.
UV Safety Tips to Protect Your Vision & Eye Health
- Whenever you go outside, be sure to wear sunscreen on your face to protect the delicate skin around your eyes and reduce your risk of skin cancer. You should also consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that offer broad-spectrum protection against UV radiation. If you normally wear glasses or contacts, ask your eye doctor about getting prescription sunglasses so that you can still see clearly and protect your eyes.
- Avoid being outside for too long in bright sunlight, and be sure to never look directly at the sun — even during an eclipse.
- Know your risk. If you have light-colored irises, fair skin and/or spend a lot of time outside because of your occupation or hobby (e.g., surfing, farming, landscaping, skiing, fishing), then you may be more at risk for developing vision problems.
Remember, UV rays from the sun can still reach your body even when it’s cloudy. Keep your sunglasses handy on overcast days and especially on days when you are out on the water where glare from the sun can cause even more damage.
If you haven’t had a comprehensive exam in the past two years, we encourage you to schedule one with an eyecare professional who uses optomap® technology. To find an eyecare professional who hass optomap in your area, visit our website today: www.optomap.com