What Eye Diseases Are Caused By UV Exposure?

Dr. Jim Martin 05/07/2018

Optometrists and ophthalmologists have long warned the general public about the danger of sun exposure to unprotected eyes. The sun's harmful ultraviolet rays can cause a number of different eye diseases, yet a considerable portion of the population has failed to proactively respond by wearing sunglasses when outside. Let's take a look at the types of eye diseases that can result from sun exposure.

Most people have heard of this eye disease. It is a hazing of the otherwise clear lens within the eye. The lens permits light to travel to the retina for vision. Those who experience a cataract suffer reduced vision. Cataracts are the world's leading cause of blindness. Although variables like genetics and nutrition play a part in the formation of this eye disease, exposure to the sun's UV rays is the prime culprit.

Pterygium is a growth of conjunctiva along the cornea. It starts out slowly and builds momentum if left untreated. It can eventually cover the entire pupil and result in blindness. Though exposure to the sun's UV rays are a primary cause of Pterygium, chronic eye irritation due to a dry atmosphere can also cause this eye disease.

Photokeratitis, also referred to as snow-blindness and welder's flash, is a condition brought about by exposure to a short but powerful source of ultraviolet light. This condition impacts the eye's cornea. Symptoms range from general eye pain to tearing and sensitivity to light. The portion of the UV spectrum known as UV-B is responsible for the syndrome. Anyone who is exposed to bright sunlight along with freshly fallen snow is susceptible to snow-blindness. Even exposure to the sun's intense glare along the surface of a body of water can cause this “sunburn of the eyes.”

Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration occurs when cells within the macular (middle section) portion of the retina perish. Similar to cataracts, macular degeneration is likely caused by factors such as exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays, genetics, smoking and nutrition.

Eye And Eyelid Cancer
Prolonged exposure of the skin to the sun's UV rays can cause skin cancer as well as eye/eyelid cancer. Be sure to don a pair of sunglasses that block 100 percent of the sun's UV rays before stepping out into the daylight. This simple preventative measure really can help prevent cancer of the eyes and eyelids.

Check out our free infographic on the dangers of UV exposure and the best practices to prevent eye diseases. Also, browse Broome Optical’s sunglasses selection. We have the largest selection of Oakley’s and Ray-Bans in the state of Texas!

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