Many of you are familiar with the correlation between ultraviolet (UV) radiation and skin cancer. You may be less aware of UV radiation and eye damage. It is important to take the necessary precautions to protect your eyes. Long term exposure to UV radiation can lead to the likelihood of developing the following eye disorders:
- Cataract: a clouding of the eye’s lens (causes blurred vision)
- Snow Blindness: a temporary but painful burn to the cornea caused by reflections off snow, water, sand, concrete, and over exposure to artificial light sources such as a tanning bed
- Pterygium: a non-cancerous growth in the corner of the eye. It can grow over the cornea, partially blocking vision, and may require surgery to remove.
- Skin Cancer: skin cancers can form around the eyelids
When you are outdoors in the bright sun, always wear a hat with a wide brim to aid in protecting your face and shading the eyes. Sunglasses are important as well. Check the label to ensure that they block 99 -100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. Even on cloudy days, snow, water, sand, and pavement reflect UV rays increasing the amount of UV radiation that reaches your eyes. Exposure to UV radiation has cumulative effects on the eye. The longer and more frequent the exposure, the more damage occurs. Excessive exposure today leads to eye problems tomorrow. So pull out those hats and shades and protect one of the most important senses you have—your eyesight!
Thanks to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
For more information contact the National Eye Institute.