Our eyes are only 2% of our entire body but are the only organs that permit light to enter the body allowing us to see. It is essential to protect our eyes from adverse risks to our vision such as UV exposure.
The sun sustains life on earth; however, its rays also pose threats to us. The biggest danger from the sun is the type of radiation it emits- UV radiation. Many know that UV radiation is harmful to the skin; however, many may not fully understand how UV radiation can damage the eyes too.
With three varieties, UV radiation is either UV-A,B or C. The Ozone layer absorbs UV-C rays from the sun, so it is the least harmful of the three. UV-A and UV-B are the types of radiation that may have the most significant consequences on the eyes and eyesight of those exposed to it. With UV-A rays counted as contributing to central vision damage and UV-B damaging the lens and cornea.
Exposure to UV radiation over a short period can cause photokeratitis, comparable to a “sunburn on the eye.” Like a sunburn, photokeratitis is painful. With this condition, eyes can become red, watery, irritated, and sensitive to light. These symptoms are usually temporary and do not often cause permanent eye damage.
Prolonged exposure to solar radiation can lead to a higher chance of severe conditions that can lead to blindness. These eye conditions include:
A condition that occurs when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged.
A clouding of the eye’s natural lens, the part of the eye that focuses the light we see.
A growth on the white of the eye and may involve the cornea. In time, the growth may block vision. This condition is common for people who work outdoors, exposed to the sun and wind.
There is no specific measure of how much exposure will cause this type of damage, so the best way to monitor the eyes for signs of sun damage is through routine eye exams. Those who spend time outdoors can help protect their eyes by wearing sunglasses that provide UV protection. There are also some contact lenses which can offer additional UV protection.
Community Eye Center offers comprehensive eye exams as well as an extensive selection of sunglasses and eyewear with UV protection.