While the human eyes can withstand some time in the sun without protection, too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can significantly impact your eyes and vision.
Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays, long wave ultraviolet A (UV-A) and short wave ultraviolet B (UV-B). Because everyone is different, there is no magic time limit on how long your eyes can handle exposure. The amount of pigment in our skin and eyes determine the amount of natural protection we have.
“There are many short term and long term effects of excessive UV rays on unprotected eyes, including sunburn of the eye, also called photokeratitis,” Kelly Schmit, patient care manager, Carle Eye Department said. “It can also lead to more complicated conditions such as premature cataracts. This is why it’s so important to take the necessary steps to protect your eyes and your vision from harmful UV rays.”
As the summer quickly approaches, the team of eye health experts at Carle Eye Department offer these six tips to protect your eyes this summer.
Do not stare at the sun!
It is important not to look directly into the sun. Both the front of the eye and the back of the eye, or the retina, can burn. A sunburnt retina can cause significant damage to the macula, causing you to see dark spots or lose central vision. This is irreversible damage, however you can slow the progress with supplements, diet and prescribed medication.
Wear protective sunglasses.
This is your best defense against any harm done by the sun’s UV rays. Be sure to select a pair that blocks 100% of both UV-A and UV-B, and can screen out 75-90% of all visible light. You may also consider blue light blocking lenses that make it easier to see objects in the distance. It’s possible that you may have more than one pair depending on what activities you routinely engage in. Some lenses, like polarized lenses, can reduce the glare that bounced off snow or water while polycarbonate lenses are more durable for eye-hazardous work or sports. Carle Eye Department offers a wide selection of these sunglasses and our certified Opticians can help you determine which pair is right for your lifestyle.
Consider transition lenses.
If your eyes are sensitive to light or you want the convenience of two lenses in one, transition lenses may be right for you. These lenses are clear when you are inside but transition to sunglasses when exposed to UV light outside. It can often take several minutes for the lenses to fully transition once you switch from one environment to another. However, these are a convenient option for those wanting the best of both worlds.
Do not wear cheap sunglasses.
Low-cost, low-quality sunglasses do not bring much value to UV ray protection. They may actually act as a UV window to your enlarged pupils. Many studies show a wide disparity in equal protection on the lenses, depending on the quality.
Make sure children and teenagers have sunglass protection.
Children and teenagers tend to spend more time outside in the sun than adults. In addition to sunglasses, some find additional benefit from wearing a wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap to protect their eyes from the sun.
Wear sunglasses year-round.
Many think that sunglasses are best worn in the summer, but it is best to wear sunglasses outside even in the fall and winter months. Though we may not be outside as often, UV rays can reflect easily off of snow and ice and cause equal damage to your eyes.
It’s important to remember that the style of your sunglasses aren’t the only important thing to consider. Rather than buying glasses that simply look fashionable, be sure to invest in sunglasses that offer the best protection and prevent future eye disease. A healthy set of eyes will always be in style.
The comprehensive team of opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists at Carle Eye Department are available to meet all of your eye care and eyewear needs. You can reach the Optical department at (217) 902-2020 to order glasses or contacts, or call the Optometry & Ophthalmology departments at (217) 902-3937 to schedule an appointment.
Visit carle.org/eye for more information on Carle Eye Department and the many options of sunglasses available.
Categories: Staying Healthy