Everyone is regularly exposed to UV rays. But the potential dangers related to years of exposure to these harmful rays are rarely thought through, to a point where many take little action to guard their eyes, even when they're expecting on being outside for long periods of time. Being exposed to too much UV is unsafe and cannot be reversed, and may also lead to a number of serious, vision-stealing conditions down the road. This means that ongoing protection from UV rays is equally important for everybody.
UV radiation, which comes mostly from the sun, is made up of two types of harmful rays: UV-A and UV-B. Although only tiny amounts of UVA and UVB light reach the inner eye, the ocular cells are incredibly susceptible to the harmful effects of their rays. Intense, short-term of exposure may result in sunburnt eyes, also known as photokeratitis. When UVB rays are absorbed by the cornea, the cells that make up its exterior are severely damaged, and this can cause blurred vision, pain or in serious cases, even temporary blindness. UVA rays can actually penetrate much deeper into the eye, which harms to the retina. After several years, being exposed to UV rays can cause substantial damage to eye sight. Out of the 20 million people suffering from cataracts, about 20 percent are due to long-term exposure to UV rays.
One of the best ways to guard your eyes from UV rays is by wearing high quality sunglasses. Ensure that your sunglasses or regular glasses block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wearing an insufficient pair of sunglasses can be even worse than wearing no sunglasses at all. Consider this: if sunglasses don't give you any UV protection, it means you're actually getting more UV rays. Sunglasses that are inadequate will block some of the light, causing your iris to open and allow more light in. And this means that more UV will reach your retina. It's important to check that your sunglasses provide maximum protection against UV.
A wide brimmed sunhat or cap will also protect you from roughly half of UV rays. A brimmed hat or cap may also limit UV rays that reach the eyes from above or around glasses.
Talk to your optometrist about all of your UV protection choices, including, but not limited to, fixed tint sunglasses, adaptive lenses and polarized lenses.