What You Need To Know About UV Rays
It's safe to assume that almost everybody is exposed to UV rays on a regular basis. However, the risks related to many years of exposure to these unsafe rays aren't really considered, to a point where the majority of people take little action to guard their eyes, even if they're planning to be outside for an extended period of time. Being exposed to too much UV is unsafe and cannot be reversed, and may also lead to a number of serious, sight-stealing diseases down the road. This means that ongoing protection from UV rays is extremely important.
There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B, and both are damaging. Although only tiny amounts of UVA and UVB light hit the inner eye, the eye tissue is incredibly receptive to the harmful effects of their rays. Intense, short-term of exposure may lead to sunburnt eyes, or photokeratitis. When the cornea receives UVB rays, the surrounding cells are significantly damaged, and this can lead to blurred vision, pain or temporary blindness. UVA rays actually permeate the eye much deeper, which causes damage to the retina.
An ideal way to guard your eyes from UV rays is by wearing good eyewear. Check that your sunglasses or regular eyewear block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wearing an insufficient pair of sunglasses can sometimes be more harmful than using no sun protection at all. Think about it this way: when sunglasses don't offer any protection against UV, you are actually getting more UV rays. Such sunglasses will block some of the light, forcing the iris to open and let even more light in. This means that more UV will hit the retina. Always check to make sure your sunglasses offer maximum protection against UV.
Years of exposure to UV rays can also lead to an abnormal tissue growth on the eye, known as pterygium. This is a slim, wedge-shaped tissue growth with blood vessels that grow over the white part on the surface of the eye. In addition to being aesthetically unsightly, a pterygium can cause discomfort, and can even change the contour of the eyeball, causing astigmatism. If the pterygium starts to grow over the cornea, it can damage vision and may result in surgery. Because pterygia are the result of extended UV exposure, it's completely preventable.
Speak to your optometrist about all of your UV protection options, which include fixed tint sunglasses, adaptive lenses and polarized lenses.