Exposure to UV rays can cause damage to the cells in your body. While you may remember to slather on sun protection daily, you may not give your eyes a second thought. However, you must do everything you can to protect your sight from the sun. Longevity Live Paid Content.
UV light can easily penetrate your eye tissue, leading to a higher risk of eye problems.
What Eye Health Problems Are Linked to UV Exposure?
According to Naper Grove Vision Care – Downers Grove Eye Center, numerous eye health issues can arise from UV exposure. You may experience a fatty protein deposit in the white part of your eye, known as a pinguecula. Another type of growth from UV exposure is called a pterygium, which covers up the pupil and iris.
Cataracts, cancers affecting the eyelids, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are other eye health issues you may experience if you do not take proper precautions outdoors. It’s imperative that you protect your eyes for healthy vision. If you haven’t been giving your eyes a second thought, there’s no time like the present to start.
Tips on how you can protect your eyes
One of the easiest ways to protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging rays is to wear sunglasses. However, you shouldn’t just grab the cheapest pair you can find. Make sure that the sunglasses you choose block 100% of UV rays.
Without proper eye protection, dark lenses can do more harm than good. They can cause your pupils to dilate, effectively making your eyes absorb more UV light.
Once you have your UV-blocking sunglasses, make sure you wear them every day. Even if it’s cloudy outside, keep your sunglasses on when outdoors to keep those UV rays away.
Don’t Stare at the Sun
Even while wearing sunglasses, you should never directly look into the sun. It can cause damage to your retina and lead you to lose central vision. Damage from looking into the sun is not something that can be reversed.
Ask Your Eye Doctor for Options
If you prefer wearing clear glasses, or you wear contacts, you may want to consult your eye doctor about your options. You can get a UV-blocking coating on clear prescription glasses or go with transition lenses. You can also pick contact lenses that block UV rays, too.
Put On a Hat
Hats can help you keep the sun off your face, especially if they have a wide brim. Even better, if you find one that is UPF-rated, it can protect your face and neck too, which can help you prevent the visible signs of aging.
Be Smart About Your Sun Exposure
If possible, avoid being out in direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — when the UV rays are the strongest. Spring and summer months tend to bring higher UV exposure, too.
While Illinois isn’t all that close to the equator, if you take a tropical vacation, you’ll want to be even more mindful of how much stronger the UV exposure is. Conversely, if you head into the mountains for skiing, you will be closer to UV radiation due to the higher elevation.
Don’t forget that the sun’s reflective rays can bounce off a variety of surfaces, making your rate of exposure even stronger. Water, sand, pavement, concrete, grass, and snow can all increase the effects of UV rays and put you more at risk.
Stay Away from Man-Made UV Ray Sources
The dangerous effects of using tanning beds are well-documented. The risks for both your skin and your eyes are much greater when you use artificial means of tanning. Even if you’re not seeking a tan, exposure to black light bulbs can be problematic, too.
Certain professions like welding also expose you to damaging lights, though a proper workplace will have eye protection available. In those cases, always follow the right safety protocols with the right protective equipment.
Protect Your Children’s Eyes, Too
If you have children, you need to be vigilant about their eye health as well. Children’s eyes absorb more UV, but this damage won’t be obvious overnight. It will accumulate over their lifetime, leading to eye problems in their adult years.
Set a good example for your kids by wearing sunglasses and hats when you spend time outdoors. Let them pick their own hat and UV-rated sunglasses, and they’ll be excited about wearing them every time you go somewhere. While you’re at it, make sure they know to never stare at the sun.
Schedule Your Annual Eye Exam
The best way to protect your eyes from the sun is by combining all of these preventative measures. You should additionally schedule an eye exam each year. With a comprehensive exam, your optometrist can keep watch over your long-term eye health.
The key is to catch issues or conditions when they are in their early stages. This gives you the best chance of lessening the impact on your vision.