UV Light and Your Eyes

With summer on the horizon it is important to provide your eyes with the proper protection from the UV Rays of the sun.  But why?

What risk do UV Rays present?

First of all it is important to realize there are several types of UV light, two of which affect our eye health: UV-A and UV-B. Each of these can contribute to different problems to the eye and its surrounding area. UV-A light can affect the back part of the eye, particularly the macula. Long term exposure to UV-A rays may be a contributing factor in age-related macular degeneration.

UV-B light on the other hand affects the front portion of the eye from the cornea to the lens. This exposure can cause cataracts, the clouding of the eyes natural lens.  These rays can also cause skin cancer on the eyelids, or elsewhere on the face. UV-B can also cause pingueculas, which is a raised bump on the conjunctiva.  Over time a pinguecula may turn into a pterygium, which is the growth over the cornea itself. Finally UV-B rays can cause photokeratitis, a fancy term for a sunburn to the cornea.

So how do you protect your eyes from UV light?

You can protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing glasses or contact lenses with UV protection.   Plastic lenses (even clear ones) naturally protect about 88% of UV lights. Polycarbonate lenses (clear or tinted) on the other hand block nearly 100% of UV light. However, some inexpensive sunglasses lenses are made with a material called triacetate, which only blocks about 40% of UV light. Polarized sunglass lenses will block 100% of UV light, regardless of the lens material. Some brands of contact lenses also help protect the eye from UV rays.  That being said a contact lens does not cover the entire eye so it is important to wear sunglasses or a hat when spending time outside.

Go outside and enjoy the sun!  Just remember to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Rainy day?  Stop in and check out some sunglasses at Smart EyeCare Center.

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