5 Things You Didn't Know About UV Light

Dr. Mai-Vy Hoang 07/17/2017

woman-in-hat-at-beach-holding-sunglasses.jpgThe summer is finally here. It is time for parties, swimming, barbecues and plenty of fun in the sun. Be sure to protect your eyes with high-quality sunglasses when you are outdoors this summer.

The sun's UV rays have the potential to harm your eyes. Let's take a look at five interesting facts about UV rays and how they affect the eyes that you probably didn't know.

UV rays can cause a sunburn on the eye's cornea.

Everyone knows sun exposure can burn the skin. However, the sun's UV rays can also cause corneal sunburns.

Known as photokeratitis, this sunburn occurs when one is exposed to an abundance of UV-B rays across several hours without the proper eye protection. Corneal sunburns are extremely painful and sometimes spur vision loss.

UV exposure can cause growths on the eye.

It is possible for UV rays to create a growth on the eye referred to as pterygium. The growth starts on the white portion of the eye and often affects the cornea. The growth can expand to the point that it blocks vision.

Eye damage from UV rays hinges on a number of factors.

Everything from geographic location to setting (open spaces have higher UV levels), altitude, the time of day when the sun exposure occurs and even the medications one takes affect the impact of UV rays on human eyes.

UV levels are typically higher in tropical parts of the world. In general, the closer one is to the equator, the more his eyes are at risk for UV damage. UV levels are also elevated at high altitude.

Additionally, medications like sulfa drugs, tranquilizers, diuretics, birth control pills and tetracycline can heighten the body's sensitivity to UV rays.

Kids' eyes are especially sensitive to UV rays.

Kids typically spend more time outside than adults. Eye health experts state it is not uncommon for half of the typical person's lifetime exposure to UV rays to occur before the age of 18.

Children are especially susceptible to retina damage caused by UV rays. This is due to the fact that the lens within a child's eye is especially clear compared to the typical adult's lens. This clarity allows an abundance of UV rays to reach far into the eye.  

Sunglass lens color and darkness don't matter.

The level of UV protection provided by sunglasses is independent of their darkness and color. This means an extremely dark lens can protect the eyes against UV rays just as well as a light-colored lens. Make sure your lenses provide 100 percent protection against UV rays.

Learn more about the dangers of UV light. Download our FREE infographic below.

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