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How Can UV Rays Damage Vision Permanently?

Every time you go outdoors, you encounter UV radiation. Ultraviolet rays are harmful not just to the skin but also to the eyes. Unprotected exposure to the sun can damage your eyes and affect your vision.

Extended exposure to Ultraviolet rays is related to eye diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, photokeratitis, and pterygia. Wearing sunglasses can help block UV rays. Given that it is summer and that July is UV Safety Month, it is an excellent time to find out whether UV rays can damage vision permanently, and how best to protect your eyes.

Risk Factors for UV

Any individual who spends time outdoors is at risk of developing eye problems due to UV radiation. However, the risk increases significantly based on several factors. The factors include:

  • Time of day

  • Geographic location

  • Altitude

  • Your health

  • Medications you may be taking since some drugs increase sensitivity to radiation

Understanding UV Radiation

Ultraviolet radiation is invisible, but it is very harmful to the eyes. There are three categories of radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC. The ozone layer in the atmosphere blocks almost all UVC rays, making them harmless. UVA and UVB rays are more harmful as they have longer wavelengths that reach the earth’s surface. Exposure to UVB radiation can cause eye problems like: 

  • Pterygium

  • Photokeratitis

  • Pinguecula

UVA rays can enter the cornea, reaching the lens and retina. Overexposure to the rays can increase the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. 

Permanent Vision Damage 

Research suggests that UV rays can increase the risk of developing cataracts. A cataract, which doctors treat through surgery, is a clouding of the eye lens that can lead to vision loss. Damage to the macula is a leading cause of vision loss. People exposed to UV over the years risk developing age-related macular degeneration.

Pterygium is a growth over the eye surface that can cover the cornea leading to vision loss. Photokeratitis or eye sunburn results from exposure to UV rays, leading to temporary blindness. 

Protecting the Eyes

People need to be educated about the dangers of UV and learn how to protect their eyes. Sunglasses offer the best protection against UVA and UVB. Without protection, the rays penetrate the eye and injure the macula, cornea, and lens. Damage to the tissues can be permanent.

Wearing good quality UV-rated sunglasses when going outside the house will protect the health of your eyes. Wraparound sunglasses offer the best protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin. Make sure you choose sunglasses that have 100 percent UVA/B protection. 

Tips for Choosing Sunglasses

When shopping for sunglasses, look for those that filter 99-100 percent UV radiation, reduce glare, and protect the eyes. The best sunglasses should be comfortable, and they should not distort colors. If you love going to the beach and skiing, choose sunglasses with a dark tint that helps block more sunlight. Consult your eye doctor about the best sunglasses for eye health.

UV damage can be cumulative and cause eye issues later in life. It can also be immediate, causing temporary vision loss. 

For more on how UV rays can damage vision permanently and how to prevent it, contact Marshall EyeCare at our office in Aberdeen, New Jersey. You can call (732) 837-0988 today to schedule an appointment.

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