How Bad Is UV Light For Your Eyes
In the summer, the sun shines longer and brighter, so it’s important to protect your eyes from harmful UV light. But the sun can cause eye damage all year long—for example, rays from the sun can reflect off snow in the winter and shine into your eyes—so you should pay special attention to shielding your eyes every time you go outside on a sunny day.
Although exposure to UV light ages and damages all parts of the eye, the front part of the eye absorbs 99% of UV radiation. Exposure can cause corneal damage, macular degeneration, and cataracts, which can all lead to decreased vision. The effects are cumulative, meaning the more UV exposure you get, the more you are at risk for conditions that can threaten your sight as you get older.
Just like your skin, sunlight exposure to the surface of your eyes can also cause photokeratosis or eye sunburn, eye cancers, and noncancerous growths.
UV Eye Protection
The best way you can keep your eyes safe from the sun is by wearing sunglasses with UV protection. Sunglasses with large lenses and wraparound protection on the sides of your head provide the most effective shield from UV rays, so prioritize your vision before considering fashion preferences. When purchasing sunglasses, check that the label says something like “blocks at least 99% of UVA and UVB rays.” You can choose prescription sunglasses, transition lenses, or clip-ons that go over your regular glasses.
Another effective but pricier option is sunglasses with polarized lenses, which block light—like glare coming from other cars in traffic—on a microscopic level.
Minimize UV Light Exposure
Avoid the Sun
Try to stay inside when the sun is at its brightest and the UV index is highest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Since UV rays can damage your eyelids and the skin around your eyes as well, you should apply sunscreen anytime you’re in the sun. A dermatologist-recommended sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is your best choice.
Wear a Hat
Don a wide-brimmed hat to keep your eyes and surrounding skin in the shade and out of the sun.
In addition to wearing sunglasses when you’re in the sun, there are other ways to support your vision. While exposure to UV light causes eye damage, exposure to blue light from screens can cause digital eye strain. To reduce symptoms like headache, blurred vision, tearing, burning, and a tired, achy feeling around your eyes, remember to blink, keep your screen at least a forearm’s length away, take breaks, and wear glasses with a coating that blocks blue light.
To get the right sunglasses and eyeglasses for your needs, visit the trusted eye care team at North East Ohio Eye Surgeons. While preventing eye damage is your priority, regular eye exams are also an important part of your vision health. Contact us today or request an appointment to take the first step in protecting your eyes.
07/24/2019 (2019) How to protect your eyes from UV damage, Johns Hopkins Medicine. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/articles/how-to-protect-your-eyes-from-uv-damage
Why sunglasses matter – willard oh (2023) Vision Source Willard. Available at: https://willardvisionsource.com/2023/05/11/why-sunglasses-matter/
Why you need to wear sunglasses year-round (2022) Geisinger. Available at: https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2019/08/06/16/05/why-wear-sunglasses-year-round