Most people are aware of how the sun can affect and damage their skin. Likewise, the majority of outdoor enthusiasts are well-versed in effective ways to protect their skin from the sun.
However, many summer revelers are less aware of (or have a tendency to overlook) the effect the sun can have on their eyes. Although maybe not as apparent as a blaring sunburn after a long day of summer fun, UV eye damage is just as dangerous.
Use this UV protection guide to learn the potential risks of sun exposure and learn how to effectively protect your peepers from the most damaging UV rays.
Types of UV Damage
There are two basic types of rays from which you need protection: UVA and UVB. UVA rays are the deeper penetrating of the two and are much more prevalent. These rays impact your central vision and can damage the macula, which is a part of your retina in the back of your eye. UVB rays are most known for their role in causing sunburns and skin reddening, but they can also have an effect on your eyes. In fact, this type of UV radiation damages your cornea and lens and has been shown to cause even more damage to vision than UVA rays.
Depending on the frequency and intensity of your exposure to damaging radiation as well as the level of protection you use, exposure may lead to a number of eye concerns, including:
As eyesight is likely one of your most relied upon senses, it is crucial that you learn proper summer eye care and protect your eyes any time you are in the sun.
Summer Sun Protection Tips
Most eye care is generally straightforward; however, protection for your eyes involves more than just throwing on your favorite pair of shades. Effective summer sun protection takes intentionality and knowing what to look for to really protect your eyes. Use these sun protection tips recommended by your eye doctor to avoid preventable damage to your eyesight.
Choose your sunglasses carefully.
While classy summer shades are a favored accessory for many, don’t just go for style when investing in sunglasses. Rather, look for a pair that is labeled with “100 percent UV protection” or “UV400” to make sure you are getting the right type of protection. Likewise, opt for a larger style with a bit of wrap around to avoid rays penetrating your eyes from the side. If you need help determining the efficacy of your sunglasses, ask your eye doctor for recommendations or have them take a look at your shades.
Wear a hat in addition to sunglasses.
In addition to sunglasses with the right UV protection, wear a wide-brimmed hat that will further protect eyes. A hat will block roughly half of the UV rays to which you are exposed. This protection also gives you a better defense against rays that may penetrate above or around your sunglasses. Look for a hat with an effective UV rating to get the most protection.
Avoid peak hours.
While most people love to soak up the sun’s rays mid-day, this time of day is also when the sun can be the most damaging. If at all possible, avoid sun exposure between 10 AM and 4 PM to protect yourself from the most aggressive UV rays. In the event that you must be out during the middle of the day, though, always wear protective gear, including sunscreen, and seek shade whenever possible.
Never gaze directly at the sun.
Even with protective eyewear, looking at the sun directly can cause significant damage to your eyesight. The most common type of damage caused by direct sun contact is retinopathy, a form of retina damage caused by solar radiation. Avoid gazing directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse.
Avoid exposure even when it’s cloudy.
Many people are fooled by cloudy days. Thinking that the clouds provide protection from the sun’s rays is an easy way to damage your eyes without even realizing it. Don’t be fooled. Practice safe eye care and wear protective sunglasses and a hat even when it is cloudy out.
Your best defense against the sun is knowing the damaging effects of the sun’s rays and wearing the right kind of protection. Use these sun protection tips to maintain your eyesight and avoid as much preventable damage as you can.