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Posted on 07-05-2016

How Does the Sun Affect Our Eyes?

As the summer weather continues, a lot of us are going to be outdoors more. Most of us don't think about how the sun can affect our eyes and our vision. As much as the sun helps our plants and flowers grow, the UV radiation can cause damage as well. Most of us only think about protecting our skin from the UV rays with sunscreen, but our eyes need just as much protection.

There are three types of UV rays emitted by the sun: UV-C, UV-A, and UV-B rays. UV-C rays are absorbed by the ozone layer preventing any damage, but UV-A and UV-B rays can cause long and short term negative effects on the eyes. These negative effects can cause damage to the eyes, affect vision, and/or the overall health of the eye.

Some of the most common negative effects of the UV-A and UV-B rays include:

Skin Cancer – Just like the skin on our body, the skin in and around our eyes can be affected.

Cataracts – Cataracts is the clouding of the natural lens in our eyes. The lens of the eye is what focuses the light in our eye to help us see. UV rays, especially UV-B can contribute to the formation of a cataract.

Macular Degeneration – Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one the leading causes of age-related vision loss. Constant and extended exposure to UV rays can increase a person's change of developing macular degeneration later in life.

Ptyerigium – A pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that grows on the layer of conjunctiva over the white part of your eye and extends onto the cornea. It is often referred to as “surfer's eye.”

Photokeratitis – This is sometimes referred to as a corneal sunburn. It can cause red eyes, a gritty feeling, sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. It is painful and can cause temporary vision loss. It is caused by short-terms exposure to UV-B rays. Staying at the beach for long hours or skiing without sun protection can contribute to causing this.

The damaging UV rays can come to your eyes at different directions. It can come directly towards your eye, but it can also reflect off water, snow and other bright surfaces. To protect your eyes from these rays, the best solution is to wear proper protection. Wearing wide-rimmed hats and/or sunglasses is VERY important, but you also want to wear sunglasses that have the correct protection.

Sunglasses that will protect your eyes from these damaging UV rays will have the following:

99%-100% blockage of both UV-A and UV-B rays

Screen 75%-90% of visible light

Polarized lenses

Frames that wrap around (if you will be outdoors frequently)

Now that you know more about protecting your eyes from the sun, come stop by Visionelle Eyecare to pick out a new pair of sunglasses to give your eyes the best protection for the summer!!!

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