HOW DO UV RAYS AFFECT YOUR EYES?

Dr. Jim Martin 12/09/2015

sunshine.pngUltraviolet (UV) radiation is a component of solar radiation. There are also a number of artificial sources of UV light such as lasers, tanning beds, and welding machines. While many people understand the link between UV radiation and skin cancer, far fewer people understand that there is also a link between UV radiation and eye damage. Any type of exposure to UV radiation can prove harmful to eyes and general eye health.

There are several common eye diseases and conditions that come about or grow worse as a result of UV exposure, including the following:

Cataracts. A cataract is the eye's natural lens clouding, which makes the eye unable to focus the light that it sees. Approximately 10% of all cataracts are directly linked to UV exposure.

Macular degeneration. Macular degeneration (AMD) is caused by retina damage over a period of time. It is the top cause of age related blindness.

Retina damage. Over many years, prolonged UV exposure may damage the retina, which is the lining in the eye that we use to see. Extended exposure to shorter wavelength visible light (i.e. violet light, blue light) can also damage the retina.

Photokeratitis. Photokeratitis is also known as a corneal sunburn or snow blindness. It can occur when you undergo significant short-term exposure to UV-B rays, such as skiing or tubing. It can be extremely painful and can bring about temporary vision loss as well as red eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, significant tearing, and substantial light sensitivity.

Pterygium. Pterygium or surfer's eye is a benign, pink growth that develops on the conjunctiva layer over the white of the eye.

Virtually everyone is at risk for UV radiation eye damage. Spending long hours in the sun, using sunlamps or tanning booths, and taking certain medications (i.e. sulfa drugs, tetracycline) can increase your risk of eye damage. Understand the dangers of UV light and take proper precautions to avoid those dangers, such as wearing a brimmed hat and sunglasses while spending long periods of time outdoors.

Look for sunglasses that screen out 75-90% of visible light, block out 99-100% of UV-A and UV-B radiation, have lenses that are gray for optimal color recognition, are matched in color, and free of imperfections and distortion. If you spend a lot of time engaging in outdoor sports or working in hazardous conditions, select sunglasses made of polycarbonate.

Broome Optical offers outstanding eye care for the entire family. From undergoing testing for common eye issues to selecting prescription sunglasses, we strive to put children and adults alike at ease. To learn more about our products and services, contact us today.

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