Thanks to efforts to increase knowledge of the dangers of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation to your skin, (including sunburn and skin cancer), most are familiar with the importance of applying sunscreen and avoiding direct contact with the sun when spending time in the sun. What is less known is that ultraviolet rays and other harmful types of radiation from the sun can also cause severe damage to your eyes.
If you tend to go out without sunglasses, think again. Extended absorption of the sun's ultraviolet radiation has been linked to damage to the eye.
UV Risks to Vision
Exposure to excessive quantities of UV over a short interval is known to result in photokeratitis meaning a ''sunburn of the eye'', which results in pain, blurry vision or even temporary vision loss. In the long run, UV exposure can lead to more threatening eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can cause loss of sight. Those who use welding machines, tanning beds and lasers are also at heightened risk of exposure to UV radiation.
Selecting UV Protective Sunglasses
For sufficient UV protection, you should be careful to look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of ultraviolet light. Look for shades that specify they are ''UV 400'', which indicates 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).
You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Wraparound sunglasses can block dangerous ultraviolet light from entering from the rear of the sunglasses.
Those whose work or recreation involves extensive exposure to sunlight are at the highest risk for damage to their eyes. UV can be reflected from bright surfaces such as snow, water, and white sand and presents the greatest risk from 10 am to 3 pm and throughout the summer. Exposure to UV becomes more substantial nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. It's recommended that you consult with an eye doctor and to know the risks for UV exposure. Simply wearing your sunglasses can make a world of difference for your precious vision.