The American Academy of Ophthalmology recognizes July as UV Safety Month. It is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the damaging effects of UV light on the eyes.
The most apparent signs of UV light damage are often seen on the skin as a bad sunburn, premature aging, or skin cancers. However, UV light can be very damaging to your eyes, both in the short term and over time.
Keep reading to learn what observing UV Safety Month means for your eyes!
How Can UV Light Damage the Eyes?
UV light exposure comes mainly from exposure to the sun. However, UV light exposure can also come from tanning beds, mercury vapor lights, and some halogen, fluorescent and incandescent lights.
The damage caused by this exposure can lead to many eye conditions. These eye conditions include cataracts, corneal damage, macular degeneration, and vision-impairing growths on the retina, all of which can lead to temporary or permanent vision loss.
As the front surface of the eye absorbs 99% of UV light radiation, it can also leave your eyes susceptible to cancers usually associated with the skin. Some of these cancers are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
These cancers can be invasive and lead to vision loss or the removal of the affected eye. While the damaging effects of UV light to the eyes are serious, there are simple ways to protect your eyes from UV light damage.
Always wearing sunglasses when you are out in the sun is one of the best ways to protect your eyes. Wearing sunglasses is especially important if you are around water as the light reflected off water is as damaging as direct sunlight.
When buying sunglasses, look for models that say they block 99-to-100% of UV rays. Sunglasses with larger lenses or wrap-around sunglasses will ultimately be more protective of your eyes.
Polarized lenses can help reduce glare as well as block UV light. As UV light can damage your eyes even on cloudy days, investing in a quality eyeglass coating that includes a UV filter is another important way to protect your eyes.
Wear a Hat
You can also protect your eyes by wearing a hat in the sun. While a wide-brimmed hat is best, any hat with a brim will go a long way in keeping your eyes safe.
Wearing a hat is especially important for children or babies who cannot wear sunglasses. UV light damage is cumulative, so it is important to start protecting your little one’s eyes as early as possible!
Stay in the Shade
An easy way to avoid UV light damage to your eyes is to stay out of the sun. When spending time outdoors, seek cool, shady spots to limit UV light exposure.
If you are at a pool or visiting the beach, opt to sit under a protective umbrella.
Avoid Tanning Beds and Other Sources of Artificial Lights
Tanning beds not only damage and age your skin, but they can also damage your eyes. The UV light used by tanning beds, while artificial, is just as damaging as natural UV light.
Exposure to UV light can damage your eyes as it does to your skin. While the damaging effects are not as immediately noticeable, UV light can lead to severe eye conditions over time.
The best way to ensure your eyes are not damaged by UV light is to be aware of the dangers and to remember always to protect your eyes!
Do you want to learn more ways to keep your eyes healthy? Schedule an appointment at Shepherd Eye Center in Las Vegas, NV, today!