UV rays can have damaging effects on your eyes if they are left unprotected. This is a fact that not everyone knows, which is why more healthcare professionals are trying to spread the word about the importance of protecting your eyes when you’re outside.
Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, UV rays can still hurt your eyes, but statistics from The Vision Council’s 2014 Sun Protection Survey show that 46 percent of Americans only wear sunglasses when it is sunny outside, which leaves a whole lot of people at risk.
It’s often not enough to just wear sunglasses, though. The sunglasses you wear should provide protection against UVA and UVB rays, but of that 46 percent of people mentioned above, 35 percent of them didn’t know whether their sunglasses offered any protection against UV rays. Those people who don’t wear sunglasses all the time outside and the people 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, they can cause your eyes to become red and swollen, develop an extreme sensitivity to light, and your eyes can actually get sunburned. On the more serious side, UV rays can increase your risk of developing cataracts, which 49 percent of Americans are unaware of, and age-related macular degeneration. Eventual blindness is also another effect you can suffer from UV rays.
Protecting Your Eyes
As mentioned before, you should wear sunglasses whenever you’re outside because the UV rays can cause damage at any time of the year and whether or not it’s cloudy out. Those sunglasses need to protect against UVA and UVB rays, and you should also consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat to add further protection to your eyes, as well as to your skin. You should also never look directly at the sun because you can damage your retinas by doing so.
UV rays don’t just come directly from the sun. They can reflect off the ground, off of water and snow, sand, windows, cars, and many other objects, which is another reason why it’s so important to wear sunglasses at all times while you’re outdoors.
You should also be aware that if you take certain medications, your risk of developing eye problems related to the sun can be increased. Some of the 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 given for the medication or talk to your eye doctor.
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Minimal UV Exposure Can be Good
It’s no doubt been drilled into your head by now to protect both your eyes and skin from UV rays because of all 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 it can kill germs. UV rays are also an excellent source of vitamin D for our bodies, including our eyes. It is actually recommended that you spend about 10 to 15 minutes a day outside without wearing sunscreen so that your skin can absorb that vitamin D. Of course, you can get vitamin D from other sources such as certain food and vitamin supplements, but those sources do not contain nearly enough of the daily recommended amount of vitamin D that your body needs.
It’s also said that 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.
There are also studies that show that kids who play outside a lot and are exposed to daylight might 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 also take other steps to make sure your eyes stay nice and healthy for as long as possible. Making sure you include eye-healthy foods in your daily diet will help to keep your eyes strong and will decrease your chances for developing various eye diseases and disorders, as well as increasing your overall vision.
Along with eating eye-healthy foods, such as leafy green vegetables, you can take vitamin supplements that contain eye-healthy vitamins and minerals, like our Ocu-Plus Formula, which contains 17 vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements, that will improve your vision and maintain your eye health.