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May is UV Awareness Month


Thanks to efforts to increase knowledge of the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) exposure to your skin, (including sunburn and skin cancer), most are familiar with the necessity of using sunscreen and using other protective measures when spending time in the sun. But did you know that ultraviolet rays and other radiation from the sun are also a threat to your eyes?

If you often go out without proper eye protection, think again. Continual absorption of harmful ultraviolet light has been shown to cause damage to the eye.

Risks of UV Eye Exposure

Exposure to large amounts of ultraviolet radiation over a short interval is known to result in a ''sunburn on the eye'', which results in pain, blurred vision or even temporary vision loss. In the long run, UV exposure can cause more serious eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can cause loss of sight. Those who use welding machines, tanning beds and lasers are also at heightened risk of exposure to UV radiation.

UV Eye Protection

For proper UV protection, sunglasses should completely block all UV rays. Stick with sunglasses that specify they are ''UV 400'', which indicates that they block all UV light (400 refers to the wavelength of light in nanometers).

You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Wraparound sunglasses can prevent harmful UV light from entering from the sides and back of the frame.

Individuals whose work or recreation involves lengthy exposure to sunlight are at the highest risk for UV eye damage. UV can be reflected from surfaces such as snow, water, and white sand and poses the most risk from 10 am to 3 pm and during the summer. Exposure to UV becomes more substantial nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. It's important to consult with an eye care professional and to be aware of the hazards of UV exposure. The simple act of putting on your sunglasses can make a world of difference for your precious vision.