The Importance of Protecting Your Eyes from the Sun

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Our Eyes are Constantly in Danger of the Sun’s UV Rays

It’s finally summer. With most schools out and many of us going on vacation, our days consist of spending a great deal of time outside in the sun. While the weather is nice enough to enjoy, there are still dangers to be found in the sun. We all know how dangerous the sun can be for your skin, but it is less known how harmful it can be to your eyes. The suns UV (ultraviolet) rays can cause irreparable damage to your eyes. To best protect them, it is important to understand the importance of protecting your eyes.

Harmful UV Rays

Most people know that the sun’s UV rays can cause skin cancer for those who don’t take the necessary precautions when out in the sun. However, those same rays can also be a danger to your eye health and threaten your vision. UV rays can be categorized into two rays: UV-A and UV-B. UV-A rays target your central vision, damaging the part of the retina found at the back of the eye known as the macula. The cornea and lens absorb the UV-B rays, but they can also cause much more damage than UV-A rays.

These UV rays have been linked to causing many harmful eye conditions such as:

  • Macular Degeneration: The tissue of the eye is damaged by UV rays, deteriorating it.
  • Cataract: Cataract development causes the lens of the eye, the part that focuses on light, to become clouded.
  • Pterygium: This is a development of growths on the eyes on the clear covering on the white area of your eye and can even reach the cornea. These growths can block your vision if they extend too far.
  • Cancer: Ocular melanoma can develop in the cells in and around your eyes.
  • Photokeratitis: While UV rays cause sunburns on the skin, it can also cause corneal sunburns, known as photokeratitis, due to overexposure to UV-B rays, reflecting off of sand, water, or snow.

Eye Protection Tips

Now that you understand just how dangerous the sun’s UV rays can be for your eye health and vision, you can begin to take this threat seriously. Understanding the danger is the first step. Next, you need to take the appropriate steps to ensure that you are not putting your eyes in a position to develop any diseases. Here are a few tips to help you protect your eyes from the sun:

  • Invest in Good Sunglasses: Many people see sunglasses as merely a fashion accessory, but they were initially created to protect your eyes from the sun. Just because sunglasses have dark lenses or are expensive does not mean they offer your eyes any protection. Look for sunglasses that clearly state that they block 100% of UV rays. Investing in sunglasses with proper eye protection and are made from sturdy material.
  • Wear a Wide-Brimmed Hat: Like sunglasses, hats were initially created as a way to shield our eyes from the sun but have now become more of a fashion accessory. Sunglasses do not offer complete protection, allowing sunlight to hit your eyes from around the frames. Pairing a hat with sunglasses can lead to the ultimate UV protection.
  • Close-Fitting Frames: As mentioned, most sunglasses do not cover complete protection from the sun’s rays. They let sunlight hit your eyes from the top, sides, and bottom. There are frames that fit much closer to your face that help prevent further damage. Some sunglasses even wrap around your eyes entirely, providing complete protection.
  • Contact Lenses: There are some contact lenses that offer the wearer some form of UV protection. However, as of the beginning of this year, First Eye Care McKinney now offers our patients the opportunity to purchase Acuvue Oasys Transition Light Intelligent Technology, the first contact lenses to adjust according to bright light. These are the only lenses that offer the wearer complete UV protection. Ask our optometrists to learn more.

The summer is the perfect time to enjoy our time spent outdoors. There are countless activities available to you during this time that are not possible other times of the year. While you are enjoying this time, it is important to remember the dangers the sun’s UV rays present to your eyes. You should always take the necessary precautions to protect your eyes whenever in the sun. If you feel as though you have experienced eye damage from UV exposure or just wish to learn more, contact your McKinney eye care experts at First Eye Care McKinney.

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