Most of us are already aware that ultraviolet rays (UV) from the sun can damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. Fewer people may be aware, however, that UV rays can also damage your eyes.
July is UV Safety Awareness Month. This July, take steps to protect your eyes and safeguard your vision for decades to come.
Can the sun really damage your vision?
You don’t need to stare directly into the sun to feel the harmful effect of UV rays. When you step outside without adequate protection, UV rays can penetrate the structures of eye, causing damage at the cellular level.
Research has found that long-term UV exposure can lead to eye conditions including cataracts, macular degeneration, and non-cancerous growths.
How can I protect my vision?
There are several steps you can take to protect your vision this summer.
- Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses aren’t only a fashion accessory – they also do a great job protecting your eyes from UV exposure. Wrap-around style sunglasses are the best at keeping out UV rays. You should also make sure that your sunglasses have a 99 or higher UV block for maximum protection.
- Consider using a wide-brimmed hat. Hats can also help protect your eyes from the harsh light of the sun.
- Watch out at higher altitudes. At higher altitudes, there is less atmosphere to absorb UV radiation, making it more likely to affect your eyes. If you’re going somewhere high up, sunglasses and/or a hat is a must.
- Stay cautious around reflective surfaces. Reflective surfaces like water, snow and sand can significantly increase your level of UV exposure. Snow blindness, a painful condition characterized by temporary blindness, is a potential risk.
- Check the UV index. Before going outside, make sure to check the Environmental Protection Agency’s UV index. A high UV index means that you should take extra care to protect your eyes and skin.
Curious about other ways to preserve your vision? Bonner Eye Clinic offers a variety of services to fit all your eye care needs from comprehensive eye care to cataract treatment and LASIK. Schedule your annual eye exam with us today.