Most people know that ultraviolet (UV) light can cause premature aging of the skin, sunburn and some skin cancers, but UV is also dangerous to the eyes.
Aside from skin damage that occurs in the sensitive eyelids, UV radiation has been found to be a significant factor in the development of cataracts, as well as progression of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. In addition, UV is an underlying cause of certain types of exposure damage to the conjunctiva in the formation of small growths called pingueculas, and larger, wedge-shaped plaques known as pterygiums. UV exposure can also cause a condition called photokeratitis, which is the medical term for an ocular sunburn. The skin covering the cornea and the conjunctiva are sensitive to damage from the same rays that cause skin sunburn elsewhere. Both UV-A and UV-B rays are implicated in these conditions.
UV light is part of the radiation spectrum and is not visible to humans. Since UV rays have more energy than visible light, they can penetrate the ocular tissues more easily and can damage the crystalline lens and the retina.
Once UV-related changes begin to appear, the best course of action is to prevent progression and further damage. Damage to the eyes happens gradually and is not reversible. It is important to protect the eyes from UV light from a very young age.
Children should wear good-quality sunglasses that block UV and wear a hat with a broad brim in front to prevent UV from getting to the eyes. Children spend more time outside and are more vulnerable to cumulative damage from UV. Like the use of seat belts, it is important to protect the eyes every time they would be exposed to the sun; the best way is to make eye protection a habit by wearing sunglasses.
Good sunglasses can be much more than just a fashion statement; they can be essential for long-term eye health. Choose sun eyewear that blocks at least 99% of UV light and select frames that wrap-around the face to get the most effective sun protection. Also, the darkness of the tint does not reflect how well the glasses block UV; the UV protection depends on the manufacturing quality and is usually indicated on the lenses.
Visit our office to learn more about the importance of sunglasses and protecting your eyes from harmful UV light. We have a wide selection of sunglasses that provide the protection you need and available in prescription, non-prescription, tinted, and polarized lenses.