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Walter Shurminsky O.D.

Home » News and Events » What You Need To Know About UV Rays

What You Need To Know About UV Rays

Virtually everyone is exposed to UV rays on a daily basis. Even though this is the case, the potential risks of many years of exposure to these harmful rays aren't really thought about, and the majority of people barely take enough action to protect their eyes, even when they're expecting to be outside for long periods of time. UV overexposure is dangerous and irreversible, and can lead to more than a few severe, vision-stealing conditions down the road. This means that ongoing protection from UV rays is a must for everyone.

There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B, and both are unsafe. Even though only minimal amounts of UVA and UVB light hit the inner eye, the ocular tissue is incredibly vulnerable to the harmful effects of their rays. Intense, short-term of exposure can cause sunburn of the eye, also known as photokeratitis. When UVB rays enter the cornea, the cells that make up its exterior are significantly damaged, which can lead to pain, blurred vision or in serious cases, temporary blindness. UVA rays can actually penetrate much deeper into the eye, which causes damage to the retina.

An ideal way to guard your eyes from UV rays is through the use of good eyewear. Check that your sunglasses or prescription glasses block both UVA and UVB rays completely. Wearing an inadequate pair of sunglasses can sometimes be worse than having no sunglasses at all. Think about it this way: if sunglasses don't give you any UV protection, you are actually increasing your exposure to UV rays. Sunglasses that are inadequate generally block some of the light, forcing the iris to open and allow more light in. And this means that more UV will be hitting your retina. Always check to make sure your sunglasses provide effective UV protection.
Going out in a large sunhat or cap will also block up to fifty percent of UV rays. A brimmed hat or cap will also reduce UV rays that reach the eyes from above or around glasses.

Speak to your eye care professional about all the different UV protection choices, including, but not limited to, fixed tint sunglasses, adaptive lenses and polarized lenses.