Sun Awareness Week is here! The annual campaign runs from 6-12 May to highlight the effects of the sun and ultraviolet light. You probably know that too much exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause sunburn and skin cancer. But did you know UV rays also can harm your eyes? Our eyes occupy less than 2% of our body surface area, but they are the only organ that lets light in. This means that UV light from the sun can have a serious impact, especially if you spend more time outside. Now that’s not to say you shouldn’t spend time outdoors! But hopefully Sun Awareness Week will help you see the sun in a different light and know the benefits of proper eye protection.
The sun emits two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B. They have different effects on our eyes and, without proper eye care, they might contribute to a few eye problems.
UV-A light can hurt your central vision through long-term exposure. UV-A light can damage the macula, which is part of the retina at the back of your eye.
UV-B light affects the cornea and the lens, which absorb most UV-B rays. Because UV-B rays hit the most sensitive part of your eyes, they might cause even more damage than UV-A light.
Extended and unprotected exposure to UV-A and UV-B rays may lead to serious eye problems like cataracts, macular degeneration, and photokeratitis. And the more time you spend outside without UV protection the more eye damage you risk.
We know it’s important to protect your skin from UV damage by using sunscreen. It’s equally important to protect your eyes from the same kind of damage. The best way is to wear high quality sunglasses while you’re outside. Your Optical Express optometrist can help you choose sunglasses that block UV rays (and look good, naturally) while suiting your lifestyle. Everyone loves bright summer days, and you’ll be able to enjoy them even more with the right sunglasses to protect your eyes.