Health Magazine

UV Protection for Your Eyes: Everything You Need to Know

Posted on the 26 August 2015 by Opticalh @OpticalH
UV light entering eye illustration

In the last few years the number of the most serious sun-related illnesses has increased: skin cancer, sun allergies or eye damages. Among the principal causes are the depletion of the ozone layer and the pollution which reflect the sun radiation and intensify it.

What is the UV radiation?

The UV rays are everywhere since they are part of the light we receive from the sun. Part of this light is filtered by the atmosphere but another large part of this light gets through this first barrier.

  • The UVA radiations are the principal cause of the aging of the skin, the wrinkles and they contribute to the appearance of cancer.
  • The UVB radiations are also dangerous. They can provoke sunburns, cataract and they affect our immune system.

chart UVA UVB spectrum

Not only the direct sunlight is dangerous but the light that coming from all directions since it reflects itself in many surfaces. This happens with every kind of climate: whether it is sunny, cloudy, rainy or snowy because the UV radiation affects either way. The 40% of annual UV exposure takes place when we are not tanning.

  • The clouds allow light to go through, specifically, a 90% of the UV radiation (depending on the thickness).
  • The water and the sand reflect a 30% of the UV light.
  • The snow reflects an 80% of UV light.
  •  The shade decreases UV radiation but we still receive a 50% of it.

UV light entering eye illustration

Side effects of UV radiation

The consequences are serious: 3.2 millions of people become blind every year due to the prolonged exposure to the UV radiation.

  • They provoke temporary discomforts (blurred images, glare, photokeratitis and inflammations).
  • They accelerate the appearance of cataract.
  • They favour the appearance and the deterioration of previous ocular illness.
  • Premature aging of the skin around the eyes. The skin around the eyes is quite delicate and thin. The UV radiation provokes the appearance of wrinkles and freckles.
  • Sunburns on the skin (regardless the color of skin).
  • They affect our immune system and the natural defences of our skin.

The eyes are the only inside tissue of our bodies that are directly exposed to UV radiation.
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Cumulative effects

The prolonged exposure can cause acute and chronic effects on the skin, the eyes and the immune system. The UV radiation leads to long-term degenerative changes in the skin cells, tissues and blood vessels that are accumulated with the passing of time. Or in other words, the damages caused by the UV radiation will appear some years later since the damages gradually appear.

For further information, read about negative effects provoked in our eyes by the sun.

In the following video a special camera is used to show the effects of ultraviolet light on the skin:

How to protect ourselves

The first thing you should know is the level of radiation of the area in which you live. Besides it is necessary to take into account that the UV index increases when it coincides with the hours of higher temperature.

The best way to protect our eyes against the UV radiation is to use prescription eyewear or sunglasses. All of them, of course, must be manufactured with high-quality and certified material. Here you have some options to consider:

  •  What is the Eye-Sun Protection Factor (E-SPF)?
  • How to protect your eyes from the sun if you need prescription glasses
  • Sun’s damaging effects on your eyes

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