What are the effects of UV light?

It is a well-known fact that too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause health problems like sunburn and skin cancer. Did you know that overexposure to UV rays can damage our eyes?

Overexposure to the suns UV rays has been linked to serious eye problems. These include cataracts, growths on the eyes, macular degeneration and cancer. UV rays can also damage the skin around our eyes. Overexposure to UV rays can lead to constant squinting of the eyes which can increase signs of ageing and cause wrinkles. Just like other areas of our body, the skin around our eyes is also susceptible to skin cancer when exposed to UV rays.

Follow these tips to learn how to deal with UV rays effectively:

1. Wear sunglasses that have a protective UV coating

The longer our eyes are exposed to the suns UV rays, the greater is the risk of developing serious eye problems. Therefore whenever you spend time outside wear a pair of quality sunglasses that have a UV protective coating to block out the harmful UV rays. To protect the delicate skin around the eyes it is advisable to wear sunglasses with large lenses or a close-fitting style. Vision Opticians are currently offering a free UV blocking coating on all sun lenses.

2. Wear sunglasses even on cloudy days or when you are in the shade

The sun’s harmful UV rays can still penetrate clouds and reach our eyes therefore wearing sunglasses when outside is still very important. Although shade does reduce UV exposure, some rays still manage to reach our eyes therefore keep you sunglasses on in the shade.

3. Sunglasses are not just for summer

UV rays are present all year round therefore you should always keep your sunglasses handy. Have a look at the UV index in your location before you head outdoors as this will give you a good indication of how strong the UV rays are; the greater the UV index, the more powerful the UV rays are. The time of day also makes a difference. In fact, UV exposure is greater when the sun is high in the sky which is usually between 10.00 and 15.00.

4. Wear sunglasses even if your contact lenses block UV rays

Although some brands of contact lenses offer UV protection, like Johnson & Johnsons Acuvue 2 and Acuvue Oasys 2-week disposable contact lenses, UV blocking contact lenses only protect the part of the eye that is under the lens. The eyelids and other areas are not protected by contact lenses therefore wearing sunglasses when outdoors is crucial to protect these sensitive areas from UV damage.

5. Wear sunglasses even if you have dark skin or dark eyes

Although having a dark skin colour may give you a lower risk of skin cancer from UV rays, having dark skin or dark eyes does not protect your eyes. Therefore always wear sunglasses when there is a risk of UV exposure.

6. When outside, wear a hat for additional protection

Wearing a hat when outside is highly recommended to further reduce UV exposure. This is especially important for children as their eyes are more sensitive to UV rays.