Protect Your Eyes from Sun Damage

Playing or working on a sunny day doesn’t usually make you think about radiation damage, but you are exposed to potentially harmful UV rays every time you’re in the sun. The sun releases energy which is both helpful and harmful. This energy is called solar radiation and it can seriously damage your eyes.1 This month, the ophthalmologists at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates of Denver, CO, are offering tips for UV safety so you can enjoy your time in the sun knowing your eyes are protected.


Understanding UV Light

The two types of UV rays that are most concerning for eye health are UV-A rays and UV-B rays. When you’re in the sunlight with no protection, UV-A rays can damage the macula and harm your central vision. UV-B rays can be even more damaging as they are absorbed by the cornea and the lens.1 The longer the eyes are exposed to solar radiation, the greater the risk of damage.
The UV Index, calculated by the U.S. National Weather Service, is used to predict the expected intensity of UV rays from the sun on any given day. When the UV Index is low, you can be outdoors and safe with minimal protection. When it is moderate to high, protection is needed and the most intense time of day should be avoided. When it is rated very high to extreme, extra protection is required and the peak sun hours should be avoided.2


What is the Damage?

UV rays can damage your eyes in several ways. They can cause cataracts, eye cancer, growths on or near the eye and even sunburned eyes.3 In the summer, something like snow blindness can occur from reflections off sand, water, glass or pavement.


Prevention is Easy

The number one way to prevent damage from UV rays is to wear sunglasses. This is the simplest way to protect your vision. Be sure to choose sunglasses the protect both UV-A and UV-B rays. They should be rated for 100% UV or UV400 protection. Choose sunglasses that fit well, feel good, stay in place and cover as much skin around the eyes as possible. Wear sunglasses any time you are exposed to UV rays.4 Sunglasses should screen out 75% to 90% of light. If proper color recognition is important, choose gray lenses.7
Other prevention tips include wearing a wide-brimmed hat, avoid the strongest light at midday to early afternoon, skip tanning beds, and never look directly at the sun.3 Check the UV index each day.5 Avoid glare or reflected UV rays coming from surfaces such as water, sand, snow, ice or pavement.6 Use proper eye protection when using welding and plasma torches, lasers and tanning beds.7 Finally, make sure elderly people, infants and children are being protected by providing sunscreen, long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses.


Get Your Consultation Today

Ready to look into prescription sunglasses? Call us at one of our two Colorado locations in Denver or Lakewood to schedule an appointment. Our board-certified ophthalmologists can help you choose the right protective glasses for work, school, sports and life.
    Denver: 303-320-1777
    Lakewood: 303-989-2023

1 https://preventblindness.org/protect-your-eyes-from-the-sun/
2
https://www.epa.gov/sunsafety/uv-index-scale-0
3 https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/sun
4 https://www.nei.nih.gov/about/news-and-events/news/protecting-your-eyes-suns-uv-light
5 https://www.weather.gov/safety/heat-uv
6 https://www.cancer.org/cancer/risk-prevention/sun-and-uv/uv-protection.html
7 https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/uv-protection?sso=y




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