With summer right around the corner, more people will be spending time outdoors and UV protection will be top of mind. Unfortunately, most people think about the protection of their skin, when they should also be considering the safety of their eyes. In fact, according to the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) American Eye-Q® survey, only one-third of Americans said UV protection is the most important factor they consider when purchasing sunglasses. Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, summer or winter, our doctors urge our patients to take measures to protect their eyes from the sun’s UV rays in order to decrease the risk of eye diseases and disorders.
Overexposure to UV rays is quite serious and can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, or, in some cases, skin cancer around the eyelids. Other disorders that can occur are abnormal growths on the eye’s surface and even sunburn of the eyes. These conditions can cause blurred vision, irritation, redness, tearing, temporary vision loss and, in some instances, blindness.
The following top five tips may help prevent eye and vision damage from overexposure to UV radiation:
1. Wear protective eyewear any time the eyes are exposed to UV rays, even on cloudy days and during the winter.
2. Look for quality sunglasses or contact lenses that offer good protection. Sunglasses or protective contact lenses should block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
3. Check to make sure sunglass lenses are perfectly matched in color and free of distortions or imperfections.
4. Purchase gray-colored lenses because they reduce light intensity without altering the color of objects to provide the most natural color vision. Brown or amber-colored lenses may be better for those who are visually impaired because they increase contrast as well as reducing light intensity.
5. Don’t forget protection for young children and teenagers, who typically spend more time in the sun than adults and are at a greater risk for damage.