It's safe to assume that almost everybody is exposed to UV rays on a regular basis. But the potential dangers related to long-term exposure to these unsafe rays are not often thought about, and the majority of people take little action to shield their eyes, even if they're planning to be exposed to the sun for many hours. Overexposure to UV is unsafe and cannot be reversed, and may also cause more than a few serious, vision-stealing conditions later on in life. Therefore, ongoing protection from UV rays is vital for everyone.
There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B, both of which are unsafe. Although only tiny amounts of UVA and UVB light hit the inner eye, the ocular tissue is extremely vulnerable to the harmful effects of their rays. Small amounts of this kind of exposure can lead to sunburn of the eye, or photokeratitis. When the cornea receives UVB rays, the cells that make up its exterior are destroyed, and this can cause pain, blurred vision or temporary blindness. UVA rays can actually permeate the eye much deeper, which causes damage to the retina. Out of the 20 million people who suffer from cataracts, about 20 percent of cases are caused by long-term UV exposure.
One of the best ways to guard your eyes from UV rays is by wearing quality sunglasses. Be sure that your sunglasses or regular glasses block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. An insufficient pair of sunglasses can sometimes be more harmful than having nothing at all. Think about it this way: when sunglasses don't give you any UV protection, it means you're actually being exposed to more UV rays. Sunglasses that are inadequate generally block some of the light, forcing the iris to open and allow more light in. This means that even more UV will hit your retina. Always be sure that your sunglasses provide maximum protection against UV.
Wearing a large sunhat or cap can also block up to fifty percent of UV rays. A brimmed hat or cap will also limit UV rays that hit the eyes from above or around glasses.
Make an appointment to speak with your eye care professional about all of your UV protection options, which include fixed tint sunglasses, adaptive lenses and polarized lenses.