It's a fact: almost everybody is regularly exposed to UV rays. However, the potential dangers related to many years of exposure to these unsafe rays aren't really thought about, to a point where many barely take enough action to shield their eyes, even if they're planning to be outside for many hours. Overexposure to UV is dangerous and cannot be reversed, and may result in a number of serious, vision-stealing conditions later on in life. And so, continuing protection from these rays is equally important for everybody.
There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB, both of which are damaging. Although only small amounts of UVA and UVB light enter the inner eye, the ocular cells are extremely receptive to the dangerous effects of their rays. Intense, short-term of exposure may cause sunburn of the eye, often referred to as photokeratitis. When the cornea receives UVB rays, the cells that make up its exterior are severely damaged, which can cause pain, blurred vision or even temporary blindness. UVA rays can actually permeate the eye much deeper, which causes damage to the retina.
A really great way to protect your eyes from UV rays is by wearing good eyewear. Check that your sunglasses or regular eyewear block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. Wearing an unsatisfactory pair of sunglasses can sometimes be worse than wearing nothing at all. Think about it this way: when sunglasses don't offer any protection against UV, you are actually increasing your exposure to UV rays. Such sunglasses tend to reduce the light, causing the iris to open and let even more light in. And this means that even more UV will reach your retina. It's important to check that your sunglasses offer effective protection against UV.
Going out in a large hat or baseball cap can also block roughly fifty percent of UV rays. A brimmed hat or cap may also reduce UV rays hitting your eyes from above or around glasses.
Years of exposure to UV rays can also cause an abnormal tissue growth on the eye, which is called pterygium. This is a narrow, wedge-shaped tissue growth with blood vessels that grow over the white part of the eye's surface. In addition to being aesthetically unsightly, a pterygium can cause discomfort, and can even change the contour of the eyeball, which leads to astigmatism. If the pterygium begins to grow over the cornea, it can blur or obstruct vision and may require surgery. Because pterygia are caused by extended UV exposure and windy conditions, it is completely preventable.
Make an appointment to speak with your optometrist about the various UV protection options, which include fixed tint sunglasses, adaptive lenses and polarized lenses.