By Mark S. Siegel, MD, FAAO
June is UV Safety Awareness Month. Dr. Siegel and the staff of Sea Island Ophthalmology takes this seriously, and wants to remind everyone of the importance of keeping their eyes protected from the sun, especially during the summer months when more time is spent outdoors.
UV radiation, whether from natural sunlight or indoor artificial rays, can damage the eye’s surface tissues as well as the cornea and lens. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the dangers UV light can pose. By wearing UV blocking sunglasses, you can enjoy the summer safely while lowering your risk for potentially blinding eye diseases and tumors.
In addition to wearing sunglasses while outdoors, below are a few more tips on how to protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging UV rays.
Don’t focus on color or darkness of sunglass lenses: Select sunglasses that block UV rays. Don’t be deceived by color or cost. The ability to block UV light is not dependent upon the price tag or how dark the sunglass lenses are.
Check for 100% UV protection: Make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.
Choose wrap-around styles: Ideally, your sunglasses should wrap all the way around to your temples, so the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.
Wear a hat: In addition to your sunglasses, wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your eyes.
Don’t rely on contact lenses: Even if you wear contact lenses with UV protection, remember your sunglasses.
Don’t be fooled by clouds: The sun’s rays can pass through haze and thin clouds. Sun damage to eyes can occur anytime during the year, not just in the summertime.
Protect your eyes during peak sun times: Sunglasses should be worn whenever outside and it’s especially important to wear sunglasses in the early afternoon and at higher altitudes, where UV light is more intense.
Never look directly at the sun: Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, damage to the eye’s retina from solar radiation.
Don’t forget the kids: Everyone is at risk, including children. Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses. In addition, try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.