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Keeping Eyes Safe from UV Rays

It's a fact that basically everybody is exposed to UV rays. But the potential risks related to long-term exposure to these harsh rays are rarely thought about, to a point where the majority of people barely take enough action to guard their eyes, even when they're planning to be out in the sun for long periods of time. Overexposure to UV is dangerous and cannot be reversed, and may also cause several serious, sight-damaging diseases in older age. Therefore, ongoing protection from UV rays is equally important for everybody.

There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B, both of which are harmful. Even though only tiny amounts of UVA and UVB light enter the inner eye, the ocular cells are incredibly receptive to the damaging effects of their rays. Small amounts of this kind of exposure may lead to sunburn of the eye, often referred to as photokeratitis. When UVB rays are absorbed by the cornea, the cells that make up its exterior are significantly damaged, and this can cause blurred vision, pain or in serious cases, temporary blindness. UVA rays can permeate the eye much deeper, causing harm to the retina. Of the 20 million people who suffer from cataracts, an estimated 20 percent of cases are caused by long-term exposure to UV rays.

An ideal way to shield your eyes from UV rays is by wearing high quality sunglasses. Ensure that your sunglasses or regular glasses block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. Wearing an unsatisfactory pair of sunglasses can actually be worse than wearing no sun protection at all. Think about it this way: if sunglasses don't offer any UV protection, you're actually getting more UV rays. Such sunglasses will reduce the light, forcing your iris to open and allow even more light in. And this means that more UV will reach the retina. It's important to check that your sunglasses give maximum UV protection.

Speak to your optometrist about all the different UV protection options, which include fixed tint sunglasses, adaptive lenses and polarized lenses.