2 min read, Tips For Optometry Patients

July may be UV Safety & Awareness Month but your eyes are exposed to the dangers of UV rays all year long. As UV damage is cumulative over time, it is important we be aware how this exposure can harm your eyes. 

Without effective protection our eyes are at risk of UV damage that can lead to acute or permanent conditions including:

  • sunburned eyes (sunburned cornea); known as photokeratitis
  • surfer's eye (growth on cornea and/or conjunctiva); known as pterygium
  • hypersensitivity to light
  • cataracts
  • macular degeneration
  • cancer of the eyes
  • Knowing these key facts about UVA and UVB exposure may help you to make smart, safe choices for yourself and your children: 

  • UVA accounts for up to 95% of UV radiation
  • Up to 80% of the sun's rays can pass through clouds
  • 40% of UV exposure comes from non-direct sunlight
  • Reflective light is just as harmful as direct sunlight
  • Water reflects up to 100% of UV rays
  • Snow reflects up to 85% of UV rays
  • Concrete/dry sand reflects up to 25% of UV rays
  • Grass reflects up to 3% of UV rays
  • Light coloured eyes increase photosensitivity as do cataracts and some prescription drugs
  • The sun's rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm
  • Polarized lenses, while beneficial for increasing safety during activities such as driving, reduce glare but do not filter out UV rays
  • Children's eyes are especially susceptible to UV radiation
  • UV damage is cumulative over time
  • The darkness of lenses is not an indicator of UV protection in sunglasses
  • Certainly not everything about the sun is bad. Spending time outdoors can help improve your health and well-being. Establishing these good habits will help you enjoy the beautiful sunshine safely.

  • Wear sunglasses all year long, even in the winter and on overcast days
  • Purchase sunglasses with a UV400 rating or 100% UVA and UVB protection (tip: they don't have to be expensive)
  • Wear broad rimmed hats
  • Dress children in hats and non-breakable, polycarbonate sunglasses
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun; if outdoors for an extended period of time, seek some shade or use a shade umbrella
  • More coverage equals better protection; when choosing sunglasses, opt for larger or wraparound styles
  • Wear sunglasses while driving; car windows do not provide enough protection from UV rays
  • Never look directly at the sun
  • Avoid tanning beds where UV exposure to the eyes is 100x greater than natural sunlight
  • Finally... don't forget the sunscreen! Ok, this isn't for the eyes but it's just smart.

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