Ultraviolet (UV) protection is a concern for many Americans, particularly in the spring and summer months. However, most people think about sunscreen and not sunglasses. Research shows that prolonged exposure to the sun's UV rays and short wavelength light (violet and blue light) may cause eye conditions that can lead to a variety of vision disorders.
According to a recent survey which identified Americans' attitudes and behaviors regarding eye care and related issues, 40 percent of Americans do not think UV protection is an important factor to consider when purchasing sunglasses.
Overexposure to UV rays has been linked to age-related cataracts, pterygia, photo-keratitis and corneal degenerative changes. These conditions can cause blurred vision, irritation, redness, tearing, and temporary vision loss. There has yet to be a proven correlation between UV rays and macular degeneration.
The effects of sunlight exposure are cumulative; therefore, individuals whose work or recreational activities involve lengthy exposure to sunlight are at the greatest risk. UV radiation reflects off surfaces such as snow, water, and white sand, so the risk is particularly high for people on beaches, boats or ski slopes. The risk for serious damage is greatest during the mid-day hours, generally from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and during summer months.
Children and teenagers are particularly susceptible to the sun's damaging rays because they typically spend more time outdoors than adults, and the natural lenses of their eyes are more transparent than those of adults. The transparent lenses allow more short wavelength light to reach the retina of the eye.
Since the effects of UV radiation are cumulative, it's important to develop good protection habits early in life, such as wearing sunglasses with UV protection. Wearing a brimmed hat and/or the proper UV-absorbing sunglasses are simple and safe methods to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
Keep in mind the following when purchasing sunglasses:
- Sunglasses should block out 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
- Sunglass lenses should be perfectly matched in color and free of distortions or imperfections.
- Gray-colored lenses reduce light intensity without altering the color of objects, providing the most natural color vision.
- It is important for children and teenagers to wear proper sunglasses since they typically spend more time in the sun than adults,
Additionally, be sure to receive routine comprehensive eye exams from an eye doctor. It's a good way to monitor eye health, maintain good vision, and keep up-to-date on the latest in UV radiation protection.
Please feel free to contact us at the Simone Eye Center if you have any questions about UV protection.
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