When most people think about sun protection, they’re usually concerned with protecting their skin. But did you know your eyes could sunburn too? Since May is UV Safety Month in Canada, we’re here to shed some light on why it’s important to protect your eyes from the sun – all year round!
The Sun and Your Eyes
Protecting your eyes from the sun is important because harmful UV rays increase the risk of eye diseases such as cataracts, eye growths and even cancer. Did you know? If your eyes are lighter in colour, your risk for developing certain eye diseases and skin cancer is higher because lighter eyes contain less melanin. Melanin is a protective pigment in the eyes that help protect them from the sun.
The sooner you start protecting your eyes from the sun, the better. This is not only because everyone is at risk of sun damage to the eyes, but also because damage can build up and worsen over time, making daily protection the key to preventing long term problems. However, it is also possible to experience short-term effects of overexposure to the sun. Have you ever spent a long day at the beach after which your eyes feel tired, sore and gritty? Your eyes may be feeling the effects of too much sun exposure. The strength of UV rays can vary depending on the time of day. Morning and mid-day is when UV exposure for the eyes is the highest. This is a different time than what it would be for your skin.
The sun may be stronger in the summer months, but it’s just as important to protect your eyes from the sun even in the winter months. Snow blindness can be damaging to your eyes too. When sunlight reflects off the snow, it can be very bright and painful for the eyes. Even on the cloudiest days, there are still UV rays.
Eye Diseases Caused by Sun Exposure
Overexposure to the sun can increase your risk of:
- Eyelid Cancer
- The eyelids are highly susceptible to skin cancer.
- At least 10% of cataract cases are directly related to UV exposure.
- Macular Degeneration
- Prolonged sun exposure damages retinal tissue.
- Keratitis (corneal sunburn)
- This is when the cornea of the eye becomes inflamed. It has been linked to exposure to UVB rays.
An ophthalmologist can identify all these problems during a routine eye exam.
In moderation, the sun can actually be good for our eyes. In fact, spending time outdoors has been linked to reducing the risk of nearsightedness in children.
How to Protect Your Eyes from the Sun
While everyone should be concerned with protecting their eyes from the sun, it’s especially important for babies, children and those that spend long hours outdoors. You want to look for sunglasses that have a minimum UV 400 protection that block both UVA and UVB rays. In addition, larger frames will help to block sunlight from entering from the sides and protect your eyes from dust and debris in the air. Don’t forget to wear them year round! For added protection, wear a wide-brimmed hat when you’re outside.
There are also UV blocking contact lenses on the market, however most do not provide any real protection. Regular contact lenses allow 90% of UVA radiation and 70% UVB radiation to pass through the lenses and into your eyes. Even if your contact lenses do provide UV protection, it’s important to wear sunglasses. Sunglasses will help to keep your lenses from drying out which can be uncomfortable. If you wear glasses all the time then you may want to consider investing in prescription sunglasses.
Follow these tips to keep your eyes and the sensitive skin around them healthy for a lifetime!
How We Can Help?
For more information on how you can protect your eyes from the sun, don’t hesitate to contact us. Located in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Bense Vision is your best choice for vision correction in Atlantic Canada. Are you tired of relying on glasses or contact lenses? If so, it may be time you considered LASIK. With plans starting as low as $83/month, there’s never been a better time to take the next step. Book your free LASIK consultation! We look forward to meeting with you!