Protecting your eyes from UV radiation

Just like you wear sunscreen to protect your skin from dangerous sun rays, it’s also vital that you also protect your eyes when you’re outdoors. Many people are unaware of the harmful effects ultraviolet radiation has on vision.

One of these effects is known as photokeratitis, or sunburn of the eyes. According to the American Optometric Association, exposure to harmful rays can cause pain and extreme sensitivity in the eyes. If the exposure was only for a short period of time, these effects are usually temporary. However, longer exposures can have serious consequences. Over a period of years, ultraviolet radiation can initiate the formation of cataracts and cause irreversible damage to the retina.

People who spend a lot of time outside (especially children and teenagers), those who have had cataract surgery, and people who use tanning beds are particularly prone to these issues. To avoid these problems, it’s important that you talk with your eye doctor about the proper protection and eyewear. He or she may recommend getting tinted lenses or specific sunglasses that protect your eyes from both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Regular check-ups with your eye doctor can help monitor and improve the quality of your vision. Be sure to be upfront about all problems you’ve been having with sunlight exposure and any day-to-day habits that could affect your vision. That way, you’ll get the best care possible.

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