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Ultraviolet Awareness Month – Protect Your Eyes


Because of measures to inform the public of the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) rays to your skin, (which include sunburn and skin cancer), most are aware of the necessity of using sunscreen and avoiding direct contact with the sun particularly during the blazing summer months. But how many are aware that ultraviolet rays and other radiation from the sun are also a danger to your eyes?

If you are considering going outside without proper eye protection, think again. Continual absorption of the sun's ultraviolet radiation has been seen to be a cause of damage to the eye.

Risks of UV Eye Exposure

Excessive short term exposure to UV can result in a ''sunburn of the eye'', which results in pain, blurred vision or even temporary blindness. Long-term UV exposure can cause more threatening eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can be a threat to vision. Just like the real sun, tanning beds pose a serious risk of overexposure to UV.

Selecting UV Protective Sunglasses

To protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays, sunglasses should keep out 100 percent of UV radiation. Stick with sunglasses that specify they are ''UV 400'', which indicates that they block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers (which includes both UVA and UVB rays, both known to enter the atmosphere).

You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Sunglasses with side protection can block harmful UV light from entering from the rear of the sunglasses.

Those whose daily activity involves extensive exposure to light from the sun are at the most risk for UV eye damage. UV can be bounced off of areas such as snow, water, and white sand and presents the most risk during the midday hours and during the summer. Exposure to UV becomes more substantial nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. It's recommended that you speak to an eye care professional and to know the risks for UV exposure. The simple act of wearing your sunglasses can make a world of difference for your precious vision.