Similar to our skin, the cells in our eyes are susceptible to damage caused by harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation, whether from sunlight, blue light emitted by screens, or indoor lighting, can harm the surface layers of the eyes, the surrounding skin, the retina (the back surface of the eye), and the lens (a transparent layer that aids in focusing our vision). The longer the exposure to UV rays, the more severe the symptoms may become. These symptoms can include eye pain, twitching, swelling, redness, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, and excessive tearing.
Is UV Eye Damage Serious?
The positive news is that sun-damaged eyes typically heal naturally without treatment. However, in rare cases, repeated exposure to UV rays over time can increase the risk of eye and eyelid cancers, corneal sunburn, cataracts, macular degeneration, and growths on the eye's surface.
How Can I Best Protect My Eyes From UV Damage?
Visit your optometrist to purchase professionally designed sunglasses that use breakthrough technology to block 99-100% of harmful UV rays. Wrap-around sunglasses or those with side panels are most effective, and your optometrist can create custom sunglasses that fill your vision prescription, no matter your age
Use proper eye protective equipment if you are exposed to UV radiation during your job, such as welders or those who work near water, snow or roads, including blue-light absorbing lenses for screen use
If you wear contact lenses and work or play in a sunny environment, ask your optometrist about UV-absorbing contacts
Try to keep out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest
Wear a wide-brimmed hat or visor when you go outdoors
Protect your child’s eyes from a young age. It’s estimated that 50% of lifetime exposure to UV happens before the age of 18 years. So keep children younger than six months out of direct sunlight, encourage children to wear sunglasses and hats, and consider using a canopy or umbrella when at the beach or in the garden
Wear protective eyewear even if it’s cloudy or overcast, as glare from the snow, sand or water can still cause burns to the eyes at this time
See your optometrist at least once a year for a comprehensive eye exam to monitor your eye health, maintain clear vision and keep up-to-date on the latest in UV protection
When Should I Visit My Optometrist?
In addition to your annual eye exam, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your optometrist to obtain UV-blocking or blue light sunglasses. We offer a wide selection of protective eyewear and contact lenses for both adults and children, tailored to your prescription needs. These options can include features such as polarizing lenses or lenses that darken in bright light. If you are experiencing worsening symptoms of sunburned eyes that persist for more than a few days, or if you have any other concerns regarding your eyes or vision, we encourage you to book an appointment with one of our friendly optometrists. They can conduct a comprehensive eye exam, rule out any underlying conditions, and provide appropriate treatment.
To purchase your own UV-blocking eyewear or to book an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam contact your local store here.