Protect your eyes from the sun

Did you know that UV rays can damage your eyes?

There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B. According to Prevent Blindness UV-A rays can hurt your central vision and can damage the macula (a part of the retina in the back of your eye). The front part of your eyes, such as the cornea and the lens, absorbs most UV-B rays, which may cause even more damage to your eyes than UV-A rays.

Over time, the effects of UV rays may lead to macular degeneration and may also cause some kinds of cataracts. Pterygium, more common in people who work outside in the sun and wind, is a growth that begins on the white of the eye and may involve the cornea. Eventually the growth may block vision. Corneal sunburn, called photokeratitis, is the result of high short term exposure to UV-B rays. Long hours at the beach or skiing without eye protection can cause this. It can be very painful and may cause temporary loss of vision. Skin cancer around the eyelids is also linked to prolonged exposure to UV rays.

UV rays can come from many directions. They radiate directly from the sun, but they can also be reflected from the ground, from water, snow, sand, and other bright surfaces. Wearing a wide brimmed hat will block about half of UV rays. Eyewear that absorbs UV rays gives you the most protection. All types of eyewear, including prescription and non-prescription glasses, contact lenses, and lens implants, should absorb UV-A and UV-B rays. UV protection does not cost a lot of money and does not get in the way of seeing clearly.

Everyone, including children, is at risk for eye damage from UV radiation that can lead to vision loss.