The Importance of UV Protection
Every day - whether it is sunny or cloudy and despite the season - we are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Most of the time we don t even realize it since UV radiation is invisible to the eye. However out of vision should not mean out of mind when it comes to UV radiation.
Sun can damage your skin in many ways including burning wrinkling skin cancer and premature aging. The sun can be just as nasty on the eyes. Too much unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) can cause photokeratitis. Just like skin sunburn photokeratitis is sunburn of the eye. It can be quite painful and usually results in redness tearing and sensitivity to light. These symptoms usually clear up quickly and cause no permanent damage to the eye.
However - you knew this was coming - unprotected exposure over long periods of time can and often does damage the eye and the effects aren t good. This exposure can greatly increase the chance of cataracts and damage to the retina. Both conditions can seriously impair vision and it is rarely possible to reverse either.
Adults and children alike are subject to the effects of the UV rays. Fortunately damage can be prevented by wearing UV eye protection.
Children spend a majority of their time in the summer outside and are therefore more susceptible to harmful UV rays. The sun can do as much damage to your eyes as it can to your skin. This is especially true for children whose risk is higher because the lens in their eye doesn't block as much UV and because they spend so much time outside.
With that in mind here are a few important points to keep in mind before you send your child out to play.
- Almost 50% of parents report that their children "seldom" or "never" wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
- Although 82% of parents feel it is important for children to wear sunglasses and 91% feel sunscreen should be worn children are two times more likely to wear sunscreen than they are sunglasses.
- The lens' in children's eyes do not block as many UV rays as they do in adult's eyes putting them at increased risk for sun damage to the eyes.
Adults also need to take precaution when they are in the sun. Before you go out without a pair of sunglasses again take note of the facts about UV damage.
- Certain medications such as birth control pills sulfa drugs diuretics and tranquilizers can increase your risk to eye disease or impairment.
- Damage can include blurred vision change in color vision or difficulty seeing at night.
- UV rays can cause macular degeneration cataracts and cancer among other diseases.
Furthermore the damage from harmful UVA and UVB radiation is cumulative over a person s lifetime and may contribute to serious age-related diseases of the eye and sensitive areas around the eye. Because the damage is cumulative it is important to protect eyes every day in all light conditions.
Protecting yourself and your children from the effects of UV rays on your eyes is easy; wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection is the best way to shield your eyes from the sun as well as dirt dust and other particles that can irritate the eyes.
Sunglasses - The Smart Look
Sunglasses - with or without a prescription - that can block out nearly all UV radiation are now readily available protecting the eyes and significantly reducing the risk of vision problems caused by sunlight. Lenses should be gray green or brown and the larger the lenses the better. Wrap-around sunglasses provide an extra measure of protection as does wearing a hat with a wide brim.
Contact lens wearers can get lenses that filter out a lot of UV radiation. While these lenses should not be used in place of sunglasses they help screen out light that comes in around the top and sides of glasses.
What to Look For
If sunglasses say they "block 100% of ultraviolet rays " buy them. Protection from UV rays is a concern for all of us. People at high risk for developing problems from UV exposure include those who spend long hours in the sun because of work or recreation those who have had cataract and/or refractive surgery individuals who have certain retinal disorders and people who take certain medications - such as tetracycline sulfa drugs birth control pills diuretics and tranquilizers - that increase the eye s sensitivity to light. And children's eyes are particularly susceptible because kids usually spend more time outdoors than adults and their young eyes let more UV rays inside.
Buying sunglasses from a professional or a professional organization is the best bet. This ensures the sunglasses have the appropriate amounts of UV filtering and are the most suitable protection for your eyes while in the sun. Buying sunglasses from street vendors is risky. There s no assurance that the eyewear no matter how dark the lens will protect against UV rays.
Photochromic Lenses - A Great Everyday Lens
Another way to help protect your eyes from UV rays is to wear photochromic lenses which are eyeglass lenses that darken when exposed to UV light. Photochromics are a good choice for an everyday lens because they automatically protect against UV. While sunglasses give comfort in very bright light conditions they are not always convenient in changing light conditions.
They are available in plastic and glass and recent innovations have made the plastic lenses much lighter scratch-resistant and shatter-proof. They are the most versatile option for prescription wearers. It is important to note however that not all plastic photochromic lenses block 100% UVA and UVB radiation.
For more information on acquiring photochromic lenses or the damaging effects of UV contact your eye care practitioner.
(With notes/information from Check Yearly. See Clearly.)