UV rays can have damaging effects on your eyes if you aren’t taking the proper precautions. This is a fact that not everyone knows. And that’s why more and more healthcare professionals are trying to spread the word about the dangers of UV rays, and the importance of protecting your eyes when you’re outside.
Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, UV rays can be harmful to your vision. In fact, the Vision Council warns that UV rays are just as dangerous on cloudy days as they are on days that are clear. UV rays are always present, no matter the weather. Hot, cold, cloudy, sunny, it’s important to wear protective eyewear to help decrease the possibility of damage to your eyes.
It’s often not enough to just wear any old sunglasses, though. The sunglasses you wear should provide protection against UVA and UVB rays. According to the American Optometric Association, sunglasses should block out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, the AOA recommends that sunglasses screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. The Vision Council Sun Protection Survey shows that while 75 percent of Americans are concerned about UV exposure, only 31 percent wear sunglasses every time they go outside. Those who don’t frequently wear sunglasses outside, and those whose sunglasses don’t protect against UV rays, are putting themselves at risk for a number of different eye problems.
Effects of UV Rays on the Eyes
UV rays can cause a number of problems with your eyes. On the minor side, UV rays can cause your eyes to become red and swollen or can cause you to develop an extreme sensitivity to light. Did you know that your eyes can actually get sunburned? On the more serious side, UV rays can increase your risk of developing cataracts. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 20 percent of all cases of cataracts are caused by exposure to UV rays, and therefore preventable. Eventual blindness is also another effect many Americans suffer from due to exposure to UV rays.
Protecting Your Eyes
As mentioned before, you should wear sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays whenever you’re outside. That’s because damage can occur at any time of the year, in any type of weather. You should also consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat to further protect your eyes and skin. Also, never look directly at the sun because doing so can cause damage to your retinas.
UV rays don’t just come directly from the sun. They can reflect off the ground, water, snow, sand, windows, cars, and many other objects – another reason why it’s so important to wear sunglasses at all times while you’re outdoors.
You should also be aware that certain medications could increase your risk of developing sun-related eye problems. Some of these medications include birth control pills, tetracycline, diuretics, and sulfa drugs. If you aren’t sure if the medication you take can affect your eyes, check the warnings associated with it or talk to your eye doctor.
Minimal UV Exposure Can Be Good
It’s no doubt been drilled into your head by now that you need to protect your eyes and skin from UV rays. You’ve heard about the problems that can occur from overexposure. However, a little bit of exposure to UV rays is actually beneficial to your health.
Minimal exposure to UV rays can actually treat some skin conditions and can kill germs. UV rays are also an excellent source of vitamin D for our bodies, including our eyes. Experts recommend that you spend about 10 to 15 minutes a day outside without wearing sunscreen so your skin can absorb vitamin D. Of course, you can get vitamin D from other sources including certain food and vitamin supplements. However, those sources don’t contain enough of the daily recommended amount of vitamin D that your body needs.
A little bit of exposure to UV light is important for maintaining normal sleep and wake cycles. The amount of sunlight you get coming in through your windows during the day is usually enough to help your sleep patterns. So open those blinds and curtains and let some of that natural light in during the day!
Numerous studies show that kids who frequently play outside and are exposed to natural light may have a reduced risk of becoming nearsighted. Just make sure that your kids’ eyes are protected with sunglasses and hats while they’re having fun outside.
Maintaining Excellent Eye Health
In addition to protecting your eyes from the sun, you should take additional steps to ensure that your eyes stay healthy for as long as possible. Including eye-healthy foods in your daily diet will help to keep your eyes strong. Eating well can also help decrease your chances of developing various eye diseases and disorders. Healthy foods can also aid in increasing your overall vision.
In addition to eating well, you might want to take vitamin supplements that contain eye-healthy vitamins and minerals. Our Ocu-Plus Formula, for example, contains 17 vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements that will improve your vision and maintain your eye health.