It's a fact: almost everybody is regularly exposed to UV rays. Even though this is the case, the possible dangers related to many years of exposure to these harmful rays are not often thought about, and most people barely take enough action to shield their eyes, even when they're expecting to be outside for long periods of time. Overexposure to UV is dangerous and cannot be reversed, and may result in a number of serious, vision-stealing conditions in older age. And so, continuing protection from UV rays is vital for everyone.
There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB, and both are damaging. Although only tiny amounts of UVA and UVB light hit the inner eye, the ocular cells are very susceptible to the dangerous effects of their rays. Intense, short-term of exposure can cause sunburn of the eye, or photokeratitis. When UVB rays enter the cornea, the outer cells are destroyed, and this can be expressed as pain, blurred vision or in serious cases, even temporary blindness. UVA rays actually enter the eye more deeply, which causes damage to the retina. After several years, being exposed to UV rays may cause substantial damage to the eyes and vision. Out of the 20 million people with cataracts, an estimated 20 percent of cases are due to long-term exposure to UV rays.
An ideal way to protect your eyes from UV rays is by wearing good sunglasses. Check that your sunglasses or regular glasses block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wearing an inadequate pair of sunglasses can actually be more harmful than having nothing at all. Basically, when sunglasses offer no UV protection, you are actually increasing your exposure to UV rays. Such sunglasses will reduce the light, forcing the iris to open and allow even more light in. And this means that even more UV will reach your retina. Always be sure that your sunglasses give maximum UV protection.
A wide brimmed hat or baseball cap can also protect you from up to fifty percent of UV rays. A brimmed hat or cap can also limit UV rays that reach the eyes from above or around glasses.
Speak to your eye care professional about all of your UV protection choices, including, but not limited to, adaptive lenses, polarized lenses and fixed tint sunglasses.