Understand UV Light: Most people are well aware of the harmful effects of UV light on the skin but many people are unaware of the harmful effects on our eyes. There are three types of UV light: UV-C is absorbed by the ozone layer, while UV-B and UV-A radiation are harmful to the eyes. UV light exposure is at its worst midday when the sun is overhead. During our lifetime UV light contributes to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Wear UV protective eyewear: According to the American Optometric Association, sunglasses that provide adequate protection from the sun should block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation, and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. Your local optometrist or optician will be able to advise you on sunglasses that will provide the best protection.
Hats: Don’t forget your hat! Even the best sunglasses don’t offer perfect protection from solar radiation entering from the sides or around the frame. A hat can provide more protection from harmful UV rays and also reduce eyestrain from glare while outdoors.
Get added protection from your soft contact lenses: Many soft contact lenses are designed to absorb UV radiation thereby reducing the amount of UV light reaching the surface of the eye. In order to be labeled “UV-blocking”, contact lenses must meet the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration. FDA Class I Blockers block 90% of UVA and 99% of UVB, while FDA Class II Blockers filter out 70% of UV-A and 90% of UV-B.
Start Early: Sun damage is cumulative; the damage that occurs as a child stays with you. In fact, some experts say that up to 50% of our lifetime UV radiation exposure occurs before the age of 18. Children are also more susceptible to retinal damage from UV light. During the first two decades of life the lens inside our eyes is much clearer than in adulthood, allowing more UV light to penetrate to deeper layers of the eye. Make sure your kids are protected from the sun with good quality sunglasses and hats!