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Home » What's New » This May is Ultraviolet Awareness Month

This May is Ultraviolet Awareness Month

 

As a result of ongoing education to increase knowledge of the threats of Ultraviolet (UV) exposure to your skin, (including sunburn and skin cancer), most are familiar with the necessity of using sunscreen and avoiding direct contact with the sun during outdoor activities. What is less known is that UV and other types of radiation from the sun can also cause severe damage to your eyes.

If you often go out without proper eye protection, think about this: Extended contact with the sun's UV light has been seen to be a cause of damage to the eye.

UV Risks to Eyesight

Excessive short term exposure to UV can lead to photokeratitis meaning a ''sunburn of the eye'', leading to pain, blurred vision or even temporary blindness. Long-term ultraviolet exposure can result in more threatening eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can be a threat to vision. Just like the real sun, tanning beds pose a serious risk of overexposure to UV.

Selecting UV Protective Sunglasses

For effective ultraviolet defense, sunglasses should completely block all UV rays. Look for shades labeled ''UV 400'', which means that they block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers (which includes both UVA and UVB rays, both known to enter the atmosphere).

The size of your sunglasses is also important. Sunglasses with side protection can prevent dangerous ultraviolet rays from coming in through the sides and back of the frame.

Those whose daily activity involves extensive exposure to sunlight are at the highest risk for damage to their eyes. Ultraviolet radiation can be bounced off of bright surfaces such as snow, water, and white sand and poses the greatest threat from 10 am to 3 pm and throughout the summer. UV radiation levels increase nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. It's important to speak to an optometrist and to know the risks for UV exposure. The simple act of wearing your sunglasses can make a world of difference for your precious eyesight.