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Many of us have our sights set on the fall, with back to school time. However, hot and sunny days aren’t going away so soon. That said, people still need to take precautions to prevent their eyes (and skin) from summer’s harmful UV rays.
Not all rays are created equally. The sun emits all kinds of rays: cosmetic rays, gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet rays, infrared rays, microwaves, short radio waves and long radio waves. The ultraviolet (UV) rays produce UV radiation. UV rays can be particularly harmful because they can cause damage ranging from sunburns to skin cancer—and even blindness. Blindness may be the most extreme conditions, but exposure to direct sunlight can also cause issues like “ultraviolet keratitis.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, this condition results from “exposure to ultraviolet rays that can temporarily damage the cornea (the clear portion of the eye in front of the pupil) and the conjunctiva, a layer of cells covering the inside of the eyelid and the whites of the eye.” People may experience symptoms like eye pain, tears, blurred vision, light sensitivity and seeing halos.
These visual disturbances can last up to a full day, but they usually disappear within 48 hours. However, it’s important to note that like a sunburn, some UV damage may be cumulative. This means those affected may experience cataract or macular degeneration later in life. In other words, even young people need to be concerned about exposure to these powerful rays. That’s why it’s critical that parents ensure their children are wearing sunglasses and sunscreen especially during the summer.
Lifestyle can enter into the equation, too. People who work outside for extended periods of time are more at risk. (Think construction workers or landscape professionals.) Regardless of age or profession, sunglasses can be the first line of defense against UV rays. The most effective sunglasses reduce glare, block 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. What’s more, they should be comfortable to wear and are safe for outdoor activities. Sunglasses should be worn in conjunction with a brimmed hat to maximize protection.
Concerned about your risk for eye damage? We’ve got you covered. Your Midwest Eye Consultants doctor, along with your eyewear consultant, can help you protect your eyes today and help ensure healthy vision for years to come.