Summer is the season of UV exposure, and the time of year when we really want to protect our eyes from harmful rays. This is why July is National Ultraviolet Safety Month, and why the experts at Lighthouse Guild have prepared some tips for protecting our eyes from the sun.
Lighthouse Guild points out that UV radiation can harm the eyes and affect vision. In fact, two types of UV radiation, UV-A and UV-B, can damage the eyes - including cataracts and macular degeneration - the primary cause of vision loss among seniors.
"The month of July, National Ultraviolet Safety Month, is a great opportunity to help shine a light on the dangers of UV rays and spread the message of eye safety," says Andrea Zimmerman, OD, a low vision specialist at Lighthouse Guild.
Short and long-term effects
If your eyes are exposed to UV radiation, you may experience photokeratitis, which can be painful and cause sensitivity to light and extreme tearing. These symptoms are usually temporary.
But the longer your eyes are exposed to the sun, the greater the risk of developing cataracts or macular degeneration later in life.
Therefore, whenever you spend time outdoors, eye health professionals urge people to wear quality sunglasses that offer UV protection, as well as a hat or cap with a wide brim.
Not all sunglasses are alike
"Tinted glasses will not protect your eyes from harmful UV rays," says Dr. Zimmerman. "It's important to wear good quality eyewear that provides both UV-A and UV-B coverage."
To provide adequate protection, wear sunglasses labeled "100% UV protection." Use only glasses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays and that are labeled either UV400 or 100% UV protection.
Also, if you spend a lot of time outdoors in bright sunlight, you should consider wearing wraparound frames for additional protection from the harmful solar radiation.
Lighthouse Guild is an organization dedicated to addressing and preventing vision loss. For more information, visit Lighthouseguild.org.