It's a fact: almost everybody is regularly exposed to UV rays. But the potential risks of years of exposure to these harsh rays are rarely considered, to a point where the majority of people take little action to shield their eyes, even if they're planning on being outside for an extended period of time. UV overexposure is unsafe and cannot be reversed, and may also lead to a number of severe, sight-damaging diseases down the road. Therefore, ongoing protection from these rays is a must for everyone.
UV radiation, originating mostly from the sun, consists of two categories of harmful rays: UVA and UVB. Even though only minimal measures of UVA and UVB light reach the inner eye, the eye tissue is incredibly susceptible to the dangerous effects of their rays. Intense, short-term of exposure may lead to sunburn of the eye, also known as photokeratitis. When UVB rays are absorbed by the cornea, the outer cells are significantly damaged, and this can cause pain, blurred vision or even temporary blindness. UVA rays can penetrate much deeper into the eye, causing harm to the retina. After several years, UV rays may be responsible for significant damage to the eyes and vision. Of the 20 million people suffering from cataracts, an estimated 20 percent are caused by long-term exposure to UV rays.
An ideal way to guard your eyes from UV rays is with high quality sunglasses. Ensure that your sunglasses or regular glasses block both UVA and UVB rays completely. An insufficient pair of sunglasses can sometimes be worse than using no sun protection at all. Think about it this way: if your sunglasses offer no protection against UV, it means you're actually getting more UV rays. Such sunglasses tend to reduce the light, causing your iris to open and let even more light in. And this means that more UV will hit your retina. It's important to check that your sunglasses give maximum UV protection.
A broad brimmed hat or cap can also block about half of UV rays. These hats may also limit UV rays that reach the eyes from above or around glasses.
Speak to your optometrist about all of your UV protection choices, including adaptive lenses, polarized lenses and fixed tint sunglasses.