Ultraviolet Rays And Your Eye Health
The American Academy of Ophthalmology wants you to know about the importance of shielding your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. The month of July 2022 is Ultraviolet (UV) Rays Eye Awareness month. July is usually the hottest month of the year, and July 2021 was the world’s hottest month on record. Man Kind activities are having a significant impact and driving up global temperature. You can protect your eyes with 100% UV-blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats. Several long-term studies show that exposure to bright sunlight can negatively impact the eyes, and increase the risk of cataracts and their growths in the eye, including cancer. UV rays from the sand and water can cause eyes to sunburn, therefore resulting in temporary blindness in just a few hours. The World Health Organization recommends protecting our skin from the sun when the UVI is 3 or higher.
The Three Types of UV Rays Are
UVA Rays (Ultraviolet A rays)
- The atmosphere does little to shield these rays—most UVA radiation reaches Earth’s surface.
- UVA rays cause skin aging and eye damage and can lower your body’s ability to fight off illness. UVA rays also contribute to the risk of skin cancer.
UVB Rays (Ultraviolet B rays)
- The Earth’s atmosphere shields us from most UVB rays—the amount of UVB rays that reach the Earth’s surface depends on latitude, altitude, time of year, and other factors.
- UVB rays cause sunburns, skin cancer, skin aging, and snow blindness (a sunburn to your cornea that causes a temporary loss of vision) and can lower your body’s ability to fight illness.
UVC Rays (Ultraviolet C rays)
- UVC rays do not reach the Earth’s surface because they are completely absorbed by the atmosphere.
- Harmful effects from UVC rays are minimal
(Source: EPA Gov)
Key Facts About UV Rays
- The spring and summer months have the highest UV rays.
- UV rays from the sun exposure are at the greatest during the summer months, between 10 am and 4 pm.
- Too much ultraviolet radiation (UV) from sunlight is dangerous.
- Nearly half of UV radiation is received between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
- Even on a cloudy day, you can be sunburned by UV radiation.
- Too much can be very harmful to your eyes.
- Without proper eye protection, ultraviolet rays may cause serious eye conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration that can cause you to lose your sight.
- The source of constant research and innovation.
- Are so powerful that hospitals use them to disinfect medical equipment.
- If you live in a humid place, you may need to be extra cautious as humidity can increase the effects of UV radiation.
- UVA rays can cause severe damage to the skin, causing wrinkles, premature aging, and potential skin cancers.
- UVB rays burn your skin up and hurt your eyes
- The fern, Phlebodium Aureum, has some compounds that protect against UV rays
(Source: John Hopkins, AAO and WHO)
Things That You Can Do
- Protect your eyes with wrap-around sunglasses that block at least 99% UV light
- Wear sun-protective clothing with a UPF 50+ which blocks approximately 98% of all UV rays
- Use a sunscreen that has an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30, apply it at least 30 minutes before heading out, and reapply every 2 hours.
- Stay in the shade
- The Cancer Council in Australia suggests that darker colors absorb UV rays, which helps block them from your skin
- Wear dark blue, black, and dark red clothing which are the best colors for sun protection compared to white or pastel colors of the same fabric
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or long skirts that cover the most skin and they provide the most protective
(Source: John Hopkins, AAO, Mayo Clinic and WHO)
Have fun during the summer months, be safe and please protect your eyes and skin during these hot summer months. If you believe you have eye damage due to UV Rays please contact our office immediately.