July is UV safety awareness month. We often focus on protecting our skin from the harmful effects of the sun. However, it is equally important to prioritize the health of our eyes during summer months. Furthermore, it’s important to remember that prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can have damaging effects on our vision, not just skin.
With increased outdoor activities and potential hazards, taking steps to protect your vision becomes crucial. In this blog post, we will give you some practical tips to help you protect your vision during the summer months and how UV rays hurt your vision.
Tips for Protecting Vision During Summer
Wear UV-Protective Sunglasses
Firstly, investing in a good pair of sunglasses is essential. By saying this, we do not mean that they need to be stylish, but rather suggest that you choose the ones that effectively protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Look for sunglasses that block 99%-100% of both UVA and UVB rays. UV 400 is the highest level of UV protection that a pair of sunglasses can provide.
Additionally, choose sunglasses that have larger frames and wraparound styles to provide maximum coverage and minimize exposure from the sides.
Do polarized sunglasses have UV protection?
Polarized sunglasses can have UV protection, but it’s important to note that polarization and UV protection are two distinct features of sunglasses.
Polarized sunglasses are designed to reduce glare by filtering out horizontal light waves that cause glare, particularly from reflective surfaces like water, snow, or shiny objects. They enhance visual clarity and comfort in bright conditions. However, polarization alone does not guarantee UV protection.
Many reputable brands manufacture polarized sunglasses that also provide 100% UV protection. When purchasing polarized sunglasses, make sure to check if they explicitly state that they offer UV protection. Look for labels or descriptions that indicate the sunglasses block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. This way, you can ensure your eyes are protected from both glare and harmful UV radiation.
In addition to sunglasses, wearing a wide-brimmed hat can provide extra shade and protection to your eyes and face. The brim helps to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching your eyes from above, especially during peak hours when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
Drink Enough Water and Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining overall health, including your eye health. Dehydration can lead to dry eyes, irritation, and discomfort. During the summer, when temperatures rise, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep your body and eyes properly hydrated.
Stay in the Shade
When the sun is at its peak intensity, usually between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., it’s advisable to seek shade whenever possible. Staying in shaded areas, you can reduce direct exposure to UV rays and provide your eyes with a much-needed break. This practice is particularly important if you’re participating in outdoor activities or spending prolonged periods of time under the sun.
How do UV Rays Damage Your Eyes?
UV radiation has been linked to a number of eye issues:
1. Skin cancer around the eyes: The skin around your eyes is delicate and prone to sun damage. UV radiation can cause skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, in the eyelids and surrounding areas.
2. Corneal damage: The cornea, which is the clear front surface of your eye, can be affected by UV rays. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can cause a condition called photokeratitis or “sunburn of the eye.” It is similar to a sunburn on your skin and can result in redness, pain, tearing, and a gritty sensation in your eyes.
3. Cataracts: UV radiation is one of the risk factors for the development of cataracts. Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurred vision and eventually vision loss.
4. Growths on or near the eye: UV exposure can also contribute to the development of various growths on or near the eye. These growths can include conjunctival lesions, actinic keratosis, eyelid tumors.
5. Macular degeneration: UV rays, particularly UV-A rays, can reach the retina at the back of your eye. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of developing macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. Macular degeneration affects the central part of the retina called the macula, leading to a loss of sharp, central vision.
By following these simple yet effective tips, you can enjoy the season while protecting your precious eyesight from UV rays. It’s important to protect your eyes and the surrounding areas from UV radiation by wearing appropriate sunglasses and practising sun safety measures. Remember, prevention is key.