We all know that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can damage our skin. That’s why we wear sunscreen and take care to cover up during the hottest times of the day. However, did you know that UV radiation can also cause harm to your eyes? It’s not just the sun, either – UV radiation from other sources such as tanning beds and lasers can also damage our vision.
Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know about this issue, and more importantly, how to protect your eyes from UV light.
Everything You Need to Know About Protecting Your Eyes from UV Light
What kind of damage can UV radiation do to my eyes?
There are several different ways that UV light can harm your eyes. For instance, one of the most common problems it can cause is photokeratitis, which is a bit like having sunburn on your eyes. Some of the symptoms include sensitivity to light, red eyes, pain, watery eyes, and a gritty feeling in your eyes.
Exposure to UV radiation can also increase your risk of developing other eye conditions — for example, cataracts and macular degeneration. Unlike photokeratitis, these won’t go away on their own, so protecting your eyes from UV light is an issue that should definitely be taken seriously.
This is particularly true for children because their pupils tend to be larger and their lenses are also clearer than those of adults. Both factors mean that more UV light reaches kids’ retinas, and as such, their eyes are at a greater risk of damage from UV radiation.
How do I protect my eyes from UV radiation?
The good news is that there are many steps you can take to protect your eyes and your vision from being harmed by UV radiation. Here are some top tips:
- Wear the right sunglasses. It’s very important to choose a high-quality pair which has lenses with adequate UV protection. Make sure that they block 99%-100% of UV radiation, and have no imperfections on the lenses. Those with wrap around frames will be more effective at preventing the light from entering your eyes.
- Wear UV protection contact lenses. As contact lenses fit directly on the eye, they can absorb a large amount of UV radiation no matter which direction it’s coming from. This makes them potentially more effective than sunglasses. Speak to your optician about which type will be best for your needs.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim for extra protection. It’s not enough on its own as it won’t block UV rays that are reflected up into your eyes from the sidewalk, water, or snow, but it can still shield your eyes from some of the direct sunlight.
- Wear goggles with UV protection when skiing or snowboarding. This is not just a problem for hot weather. Fresh snow can reflect as much as 80% of UV radiation, so it’s very important to protect your eyes from it during the winter season, too, even when the weather is overcast.