How UV Rays Put You at Risk and How to Protect Your Eyes

UV rays and your eyes

We all know that excess UV exposure can cause painful sunburns and increase your risk of skin cancers.  Did you know that the sun can be just as harmful for your eyes?

With summer right around the corner, we want to give you the facts so that you and your family are protected.  Just like skin, we can protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. Sunglasses are to the eyes what sunscreen is to the skin.  Let’s enjoy the sun together safely.

Extended UV exposure is known to increase the likelihood of a variety of eye and vision problems such as cataracts, eye growths, macular degeneration, and skin cancer.

Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of the eye which affects your vision and can be compared to looking through a cloudy window.

aging eye damage cataracts

Macular Degeneration causes loss in the center of the field of vision and is the leading cause of blindness over age 50.

age-related macular degeneration

Pinguecula / Pterygium is also known as “surfer’s eye”, these non-cancerous eye growths usually begin on the clear tissue of the eye and can spread to the cornea. They can cause irritation and even affect your vision!

pingueceula eye damage pterygium

Pinguecula and Pterygium

Photokeratitis is a painful eye condition caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays, usually from the sun. This is like a sunburn of the eyes.


Helpful Tips:

  1. Not all sunglass lenses are made equal!

Pay attention to your sunglasses’ level of quality of protection. Make sure to look for UVA/UVB protection in your lenses.

Your sunglasses may be selfie-worthy, but if they aren’t protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays, what’s the point? Our advice: skip the cheap and convenient sunglasses. It all comes down to the quality of your sunglass lenses. Sunglasses can be stamped as UVA/UVB blocking and not actually provide substantial protection. Your best bet is to visit a reputable retailer such as your local optometrist and leave those gas station, novelty, or online glasses in the past. Outside of legitimate eyewear retailers, there is no guarantee of authenticity or proper protection.

We’ll give you bonus points for polarization (which cuts glare and adds vividness) and blue light protection (blue light comes from the sun too!). Your eyes deserve the best protection.

  1. Wear your sunglasses in the winter too!

Snow and water can actually reflect UV rays right back into your eyes increasing your exposure! UVB Rays are highly reflective. It is so important to wear sun protection, especially during winter activities like snowboarding and skiing.

  1. The sun can be harmful even in the shade.

Your eyes are still vulnerable to UV rays that reflect off of surfaces like sand, roads, and buildings. This is true for cloudy, overcast days, too! UVB Rays are more likely to penetrate on cloudy days

  1. Even if you are using UV blocking contact lenses, sunglasses are a must.

Your contact lenses only shield those tissues of the eye that they physically cover. Sunglasses are your friend.

  1. Look for sunglasses that maximize your coverage

Sunglasses with a wrap-around style that fits close to your face and covers more of the sensitive skin around your eyes are great because they limit the ability of uv rays that reach your eyes from all sides. Take the protection a step further with a wide-brimmed hat!

  1. Don’t forget the kids!

A child’s eye lens is less mature than that of an adult, which means it cannot filter UV rays as easily and can lead to damage of the retina. With outdoor activities increasing during the spring and summer, children are particularly vulnerable to eye damage from the sun. Encourage your children to make sunglasses a habit.