It's safe to assume that almost everybody is exposed to UV rays on a regular basis. But the potential risks of long-term exposure to these harsh rays are not often considered, and most people take little action to protect their eyes, even when they're planning on being out in the sun for long periods of time. UV overexposure is dangerous and irreversible, and may also result in several serious, sight-stealing diseases later on in life. And so, continuing protection from these rays is vital for everyone.
There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B, and both are harmful. Although only small amounts of UVA and UVB light hit the inner eye, the eye cells are very vulnerable to the damaging effects of their rays. Small amounts of this kind of exposure may cause sunburn of the eye, often referred to as photokeratitis. When the cornea receives UVB rays, the outer cells are severely damaged, and this can cause blurred vision, pain or temporary blindness. UVA rays can penetrate much deeper into the eye, causing harm to the retina. Over time, being exposed to UV rays may cause significant and lasting damage to eye sight.
One of the best ways to shield your eyes from UV rays is with high quality sunglasses. Be sure that your sunglasses or regular glasses block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. An unsatisfactory pair of sunglasses can actually be more harmful than having no sunglasses at all. Think about it this way: if sunglasses don't give you any UV protection, it means you're actually increasing your exposure to UV rays. Such sunglasses will block some of the light, which causes the iris to open and let even more light in. And this means that more UV will hit your retina. Always check to make sure your sunglasses offer enough protection against UV.
Speak to your optometrist about the various UV protection choices, which include adaptive lenses, polarized lenses and fixed tint sunglasses.