For many years we’ve all been cautioned about the damaging effects of UV radiation and its connection to the development of skin cancer, so sunscreen is a common protection we all know about. But UV radiation is also damaging to our eyes and to protect your vision you also need to take precautions for your eyes when spending time outdoors.
UV stands for ultraviolet and means that the light is in the UV range which means it is a higher frequency than violet light which is the highest frequency light visible to the human eye. UV light is invisible to the human eye.
UV Light Damages Skin...and Eyes
The UV radiation in sunlight has both positive and negative effects. On the positive side, it is a principal source of vitamin D. The negative effect of UV light is damage to our DNA which can result in skin cancer. But exposure to UV light can also be damaging to our eyes and can lead to early cataract development and macular degeneration, so it’s important to take precautions when you are outside during the day.
Less severe eye problems such as photokeratitis, also known as snow blindness, is a sunburned cornea. Snow blindness can be painful and cause vision loss for several hours. It can happen when you spend excessive time outdoors in bright or reflected light without UV eye protection.
Protect Eyes from UV
The best way to consistently protect your eyes when you are outdoors is to wear sunglasses with 100 percent protection against both UVA and UVB rays, the two basic types of UV light that reach the Earth.
Wraparound sunglasses provide the best protection because UV radiation can reach the eyes from the sides of regular sunglasses. If you wear prescription glasses, there are wraparound 100 percent UVA and UVB protective sunglasses that fit over prescription glasses.
Remember, cloudy days don’t mean there are no UV rays. Ultraviolet rays can get through cloud cover, so wearing sunglasses even on cloudy days is recommended.
It is important to remember that UV rays are intensified when they are reflected off surfaces such as water, pavement, or sand. Snow is also a UV reflector and intensifier so eye protection from UV rays is not just for summertime outdoor activities. Wearing a hat provides added protection and is also recommended when spending time outside.
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