When you go outside in the sun, how frequently do you think about your eyes? If you are not sensitive to bright light, you might not think twice about wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV radiation. Many people are aware of the hazards of skin cancer and the need to use sunscreen.
UV rays can sunburn your eyes and cause diseases, including cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium (white tissue growth) on the eyes; therefore protecting your eyes is vital. Since the face area is the most prone to skin cancer and is directly around the eyes, it’s highly encouraged to protect both your eyes and that delicate part of your skin.
According to the American Optometric Association, you should always wear sunglasses when exposed to UV or blue light. Sunglasses that block 99% of UVB and 95% of UVA light rays provide the best protection.
Cancer and UV Radiation
Nonmelanoma skin cancer affects about 3.3 million people each year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. One in every five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives, and one person dies from skin cancer every 54 minutes. According to the foundation, “nonmelanoma skin malignancies are connected with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation” from the sun in roughly 90% of cases.
UVA photons are present all year (even on cloudy days), but UVB rays are dependent on the season and location. It is a safe assumption that you are always exposed to some type of radiation, particularly harmful radiation from the sun. We know that UV radiation is harmful to our skin’s fragile tissues, but what about our eyes? We can presume that if our skin is exposed to intense UV radiation, our eyes are also exposed.
What Is the Purpose of Sunglasses?
If the statistics above are not enough to persuade you to wear sunglasses, the remainder of this material should. Sunglasses are worn to protect the sensitive tissues of the eyes, which aid in the perception and interpretation of light. To gain the maximum benefits of eye protection, you need prescription-grade sunglasses, not just standard glasses or even a hat to shade your face.
We’ve already discussed skin cancer, but did you know that two different forms of malignancies can affect the eyes? According to the American Cancer Society, intraocular lymphoma is one, although melanoma is the most prevalent primary intraocular (within the eye) malignancy. Melanoma of the eye, by coincidence, is caused by the sun!
The majority of eye melanomas begin in the iris, and your ophthalmologist will be able to detect it by looking for a black spot on the iris. The good news is that this melanoma grows slowly, and your ophthalmologist can help you halt its progression and take action to protect your eyes from further harm. Many eye disorders caused by UV rays can be avoided or stopped if you consult an eye specialist regularly.
UV Rays Cause Common Eye Problems
UV radiation can sunburn your eyes and cause diseases, including cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium (white tissue growth on the eyes), among other things. Have you heard the term “snow blindness” before? It is more commonly used in snow areas.
If you do not wear prescription sunglasses and spend all day looking at the snow, the sunshine reflected off the snow can sunburn your eyes (literally turning them scarlet), resulting in snow blindness for a few days. Other issues that arise frequently are:
Macular Degeneration – Macular degeneration is the most significant cause of vision loss; therefore you want to avoid it. It affects more than 10 million Americans, and the number is growing every year. Both inherited, and environmental factors play a role in the condition. Using prescription-grade eyewear, you need to protect yourself from environmental elements (sun rays) and blue light exposure (from electronic gadgets, LED lights, etc.) using prescription-grade eyewear. The process can be slowed or stopped if detected early.
Cataracts – The lenses of our eyes should be clear so that the various portions of our eyes can easily interpret light, colors, and objects. As the condition worsens, the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and opaque, causing images to lose focus and become hazy. Cataracts develop as people age or as a result of eye damage (e.g., UV radiation).
Our Sunglasses Recommendations
You will note that we keep using the phrase “prescription-grade” sunglasses. Why do we keep repeating ourselves? Many sunglasses may be found in grocery stores and shopping malls, but what type of protection do these glasses provide? According to the American Optometric Association, you should always wear sunglasses when exposed to UV or blue light (which comes from electronic devices, LED lights, etc.).
Sunglasses that block 99 percent of UVB and 95 percent of UVA light rays provide the best protection. The majority of sunglasses sold in stores are not optometrist-grade sunglasses that provide UV protection, which means that damaging light rays still reach your eyes. Sunglasses may appear to shield your eyes since the lenses are dark, but unless they are specifically engineered to filter certain light waves, you are simply wearing tinted glass that darkens your visual field rather than accomplishing anything additional. When purchasing sunglasses, look for particular UVA and UVB protection labels. Prescription-grade glasses can only protect both types of light waves.
The first step in being able to protect oneself is to be aware of the harmful effects of UV radiation on the eyes. Now that you have learned everything there is to know about prescription sunglasses; we hope you will take the time to get some. The best part about all of the illnesses (and diseases) we have discussed is that they can be avoidable. When you step out the door, how easy is it to put on a pair of sunglasses? That simple decision could save your eyesight for the rest of your life. If you do not have a pair, it is a little more difficult.