Berkeley Eye Center wants everyone to know that July is UV Safety Month. UV stands for Ultraviolet Radiation. The sun radiates energy all along the spectrum — the sunlight we see, the heat we feel, and some, like UV radiation, that can have detrimental effects on the human body. In addition to sunburn and skin cancer, excessive exposure to the sun’s UV radiation can cause damage to our eyes and vision.
But it’s summer — this is no time to avoid the sun! Don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to protect your eyes from harmful UV light without having to give up any of the fun of your summer outdoor activities.
How Does UV Effect Your Eyes and Vision?
There are three types of UV radiation: UVA rays, UVB rays, and UVC rays. Prolonged exposure to any type can damage your eyes. UVA rays can affect your central vision, damaging the macula, a part of the retina located at the back of your eye. UVB rays, which can be more damaging than the UVAs, are mainly absorbed by the front part of the eye (the cornea and the lens). UVC rays are absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere, and do not reach the surface of the earth.
- Cataracts and macular degeneration are just two of the UV-related conditions that can lead to significant vision loss.
- It’s not just your skin that can get sunburned. Photokeratitis is sunburn of the eyes with symptoms including pain, redness of the eye, tearing and, in severe cases, temporary blindness.
- UV radiation can also affect the skin and structures around the eyes, causing wrinkles and skin cancer of the orbit and eyelids.
- UV eye damage can occur anytime of the year.
How Can You Protect Your Eyes from Harmful UV Radiation?
Here’s some helpful tips to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of UV radiation:
- The easiest way to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of UV rays? A good pair of sunglasses. And by good, we don’t mean expensive — we mean glasses with lenses that block out 99-100 percent of the sun’s UV radiation. Be sure to check the label. Sunglasses also reduce glare, making it easier to see on a bright, sunny day. Special types of sunglasses can help protect your eyes from damage by foreign objects, like sand or dust, as well. And let’s not forget, everybody tends to look way cooler when they’re wearing sunshades!
- Brimmed hats and umbrellas can also help to shield your eyes.
- Be extra aware when you’re out on the water — water reflects and intensifies UV radiation.
- Check the weather before you go out. Most local weather reports include the day’s UV rating. Plan your day’s activities accordingly.
- For eyes that have already suffered UV damage, there are a number of oculoplastic procedures that can reduce the appearance of bags and wrinkles and remove some types of orbit and eyelid cancers.
Enjoy the Outdoors While Protecting Your Vision from UV Radiation
Don’t let UV radiation spoil your summer fun. There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the outdoors while protecting your vision from the harmful effects of UV radiation. And if it’s been a while, summer is the perfect time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam at the Berkeley Eye Center. Our Houston eye doctors can recommend ways to protect your eyes from the sun and detect potential UV damage in its earliest and most treatable stages. We have locations all over Houston and surrounding communities, including Kingwood, the Woodlands, Tomball, Katy, and Pearland!