It's a fact that basically everybody is exposed to UV rays. Even though this is the case, the potential dangers of years of exposure to these unsafe rays aren't really thought about, to a point where most people barely take enough action to protect their eyes, even if they're expecting on being exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Being exposed to too much UV is unsafe and irreversible, and may result in several serious, sight-damaging diseases later on in life. And so, continuing protection from UV rays is a must for everyone.
UV radiation, originating mostly from the sun, is made up of 2 categories of harmful rays: UVA and UVB. Even though only tiny amounts of UVA and UVB light hit the inner eye, the eye cells are very receptive to the dangerous effects of their rays. Small amounts of this kind of exposure can lead to sunburn of the eye, or photokeratitis. When UVB rays are absorbed by the cornea, the outer cells are destroyed, which can cause blurred vision, pain or in serious cases, even temporary blindness. UVA rays can actually permeate the eye much deeper, causing harm to the retina.
An ideal way to shield your eyes from UV rays is by wearing good eyewear. Be sure that your sunglasses or regular eyewear block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wearing an unsatisfactory pair of sunglasses can be worse than wearing nothing at all. Think about it this way: if sunglasses offer no protection against UV, you are actually getting more UV rays. The inadequate sunglasses tend to reduce the light, forcing your iris to open and let even more light in. This means that more UV will reach your retina. It's important to check that your sunglasses provide effective protection against UV.
Years of exposure to UV rays can also cause an abnormal tissue growth on the eye, known as pterygium. This is a narrow, wedge-shaped tissue growth with blood vessels that appear over the white part on the surface of the eye. In addition to being cosmetically unsightly, a pterygium can cause discomfort, and can even affect the contour of the eyeball, which will cause astigmatism. If the pterygium begins to grow over the cornea, it can damage vision and may require surgery. Because pterygia are the result of extended UV exposure and windy conditions, it's completely avoidable.
Talk to your eye care professional about the various UV protection options, which include adaptive lenses, polarized lenses and fixed tint sunglasses.