Everyone is regularly exposed to UV rays. Even though this is the case, the potential risks of long-term exposure to these harmful rays are not often thought about, to a point where most people take little action to protect their eyes, even when they're expecting to be exposed to the sun for many hours. Being exposed to too much UV is dangerous and irreversible, and can cause several severe, sight-stealing diseases later on in life. This means that ongoing protection from these rays is extremely important.
There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B, both of which are damaging. Although only minimal measures of UVA and UVB light enter the inner eye, the eye cells are very vulnerable to the dangerous effects of their rays. Small amounts of this kind of exposure can result in sunburn of the eye, also known as photokeratitis. When the cornea receives UVB rays, the surrounding cells are destroyed, which can lead to pain, blurred vision or in serious cases, temporary blindness. UVA rays can permeate the eye much deeper, which harms to the retina. Out of the 20 million people suffering from cataracts, an estimated 20 percent are due to extended UV exposure.
One of the best ways to guard your eyes from UV rays is through the use of high quality eyewear. Check that your sunglasses or prescription eyewear block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wearing an unsatisfactory pair of sunglasses can actually be more harmful than having no sun protection at all. Think about it this way: when your sunglasses don't give you any protection against UV, it means you're actually increasing your exposure to UV rays. Such sunglasses will reduce the light, causing the iris to open and let even more light in. And this means that more UV will be hitting the retina. Always be sure that your sunglasses give effective protection against UV.
Wearing a large sunhat or cap will also protect you from up to fifty percent of UV rays. A brimmed hat or cap can also limit UV rays that hit your eyes from above or around glasses.
Speak to your optometrist about the various UV protection choices, including fixed tint sunglasses, adaptive lenses and polarized lenses.