By now, most Americans are familiar with the dangers of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation to your skin, (including sunburn and skin cancer) and the necessity of applying sunscreen and avoiding direct contact with the sun when spending time in the sun. What is less known is that UV and other harmful types of radiation from the sun also pose a threat to your eyes.
If you often go out without proper eye protection, think about this: Extended exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays has been shown to cause eye damage.
Risks of UV Eye Exposure
Exposure to large amounts of UV over a short amount of time can lead to a ''sunburn on the eye'', leading to pain, blurred 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, which can be a threat to vision. Individuals that come into frequent contact with welding machines, tanning beds and lasers are also at heightened risk of exposure to UV radiation.
How to Choose Protective Sunglasses
To guard your eyes from dangerous UV rays, sunglasses should block 100 percent of ultraviolet light. Look for shades that specify they are ''UV 400'', which means that they prevent both UVA and UVB rays from entering your eyes (400 refers to the wavelength of light in nanometers).
You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Wraparound sunglasses can prevent harmful ultraviolet rays from coming in through the sides and back of the frame.
People whose daily activity involves extensive exposure to sunlight are at the most risk for damage to their eyes. Ultraviolet radiation can be reflected from bright areas such as snow, water, and white sand and presents the most risk during the midday hours and during the summer months. Exposure to UV becomes more substantial nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. It's important to consult with an eye care professional and to know the risks for UV exposure. Simply wearing your sunglasses can make a world of difference for your precious eyesight.