When people are exposed to the sun for prolonged periods of time, they remember to slather on the sunscreen in order to avoid a painful sunburn, but what some people fail to realize is that the sun can also cause long-term damage to the eyes.
What is UV Radiation?
If you’ve heard about UV rays but are not sure what they are as well as the different types of rays, you’re not alone. With three different types of UV radiation, it’s easy to get information mixed up. All you have to remember is that UVA and UVB rays are the ones that can cause serious damage even with short-term exposure. UVC rays are not considered a threat since they get absorbed by the ozone layer before they ever get a chance to reach us.
Short-Term vs. Long-Term Effects
Do you think it is possible to get a sunburn on your eye? While it’s not technically a typical sunburn, short-term exposure to UV radiation can cause a similar sensation on your eye. Photokeratitis results from momentary exposure to UV rays, most typically in conjunction with the cold.
This causes corneal inflammation which can be painful. Additional symptoms include redness of the eyes, light sensitivity, extreme tearing, and a feeling of debris being in the eye. While these symptoms do subside and are not typically permanent, it is very uncomfortable.
While short-term exposure to UV radiation does not cause major damage to the eyes, long-term exposure can cause serious damage. You can increase the odds of developing cataracts with continuous exposure to UV radiation.
There is also the potential for damaging the eye’s retina, which can affect vision since there are many nerves in the lining of the eye that can be easily damaged by the UV radiation. Another major result of exposure to UV radiation is the chance of getting skin cancer near and around the eyelids. Other consequences are pterygium, which develops in clear tissue of the eye but is non-cancerous and pinguecula, causing yellow lesions on the eye’s white tissue.
How to Protect Your Eyes
You should not be afraid to go out into the sun to avoid UV radiation. There are some simple precautions you can take like wearing sunglasses that offer significant protection from the sun’s rays. If you already wear glasses and think wearing sunglasses isn’t an option, there are prescription sunglasses that you can purchase in order to be able to see while at the same time protecting your vision.
If you already know your prescription from your optometrist, you can conveniently buy glasses online. They should be able to block most UVA and UVB rays. Look for quality glasses that offer protection. For those that don’t want to compromise style for safety, there are designer sunglasses available that will keep you on-trend. Since children and teens spend more time outside than most adults, it’s important that they too wear appropriate eye protection.
At the end of the day, your eyes will thank you for taking the time to purchase sunglasses that will protect you from harmful UV radiation.