Many people think of sunglasses as a mere accessory – the final touch to the perfect outfit, or a way to look a little cooler when the sun’s out. People also tend to focus on the practicality of sunglasses: the fact that they help people see in bright sunlight, especially when performing certain tasks, like driving. But we often forget about the fact that sunglasses help protect our eye health as well. Is UV light bad for your eyes? Absolutely. Scroll down to learn why it’s dangerous and how sunglasses can help.
What Is UV Light?
Ultraviolet (UV) light is a type of electromagnetic radiation, and most natural UV light that people encounter comes from the sun. Only about 10 percent of sunlight is UV light, however. Artificial sources of UV light include tanning booths, black lights, curing lamps, and halogen lights. There are three general types of UV light: UVA, UVB, and UVC.
- UVA: The lowest-energy UV rays, UVA rays are nearer to visible light rays. They can pass through the cornea of the eye to reach the lens and retina.
- UVB: The mid-level-energy UV rays, UVB rays are partially filtered by the atmosphere’s ozone layer but some still reach the earth’s surface.
- UVC: The highest-energy UV rays (and therefore the most dangerous to your body), UVC rays are fortunately blocked by the atmosphere’s ozone layer.
Overexposure to any of these types of UV light is dangerous and can damage living tissue. For example, sunburns and suntans are caused by UV light.
Is UV Light Bad for Your Eyes?
Definitely. Whether produced by the sun or indoor artificial rays, UV light can damage the eye’s surface tissues, the cornea, and the lens. By exposing your eyes to UV light, you are increasing your risk of developing several eye diseases and conditions. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, these include cataracts, eye cancers, growths on the eye, and snow blindness (also known as photokeratitis).
How to Protect Your Eyes from UV Radiation
To protect your eyes from UV light, use the following tips:
- Wear sunglasses that provide 100-percent UV or UV400 protection (blocking against both UVA and UVB rays).
- Wear a hat along with your sunglasses (a broad-brimmed hat is ideal).
- Keep in mind that clouds don’t block UV light. UV rays can reach you in the shade as well.
- Be extra careful when the sun is the strongest (midday to early afternoon).
- Be careful when spending time near surfaces where sunlight is reflected (water, ice, snow, etc.).
- Do not look directly at the sun (including during an eclipse).
- Avoid tanning beds, which pose the same risks as sunlight.
- Remember that sunglasses aren’t just important in summer. They’re especially important in winter because snow reflects UV rays.
Finally, if you’re a parent, ensure that your children follow these tips as well.
Spending time outdoors is wonderful for our mental health and happiness, especially in summer when the days are long and sunny. However, it’s important to acknowledge the risks of UV light and keep your eyes protected from the sun. Pick up some stylish and protective shades to shield your eyes this summer – and look cool while doing it!
Looking for prescription sunglasses? If you live in southwest Missouri, contact Heffington’s. Since 1975, the Heffington family has been assisting the Springfield community with top-quality eye care and affordable eyeglasses and contacts. One of the unique features of our family-owned business is that we manufacture lenses at our own laboratory, giving us total control over the service and pricing, and we’re happy to pass our savings on to you. To learn more about our products and services, please get in touch with us online, send an email to [email protected], or give us a call at 417-869-3937 (Optiland location) or 417-882-3937 (House of Vision location). We look forward to hearing from you!