When we think about ultraviolet(UV) radiation damage, the first thing we think about is probably our skin. However, did you know UV radiation can also damage the delicate structures of the eyes?
UV radiation will penetrate the lens of the eye, which can cause changes to the protein structure. Over time, this can cause the development of cataracts leading to impaired vision. The retina (the light sensing tissue of the eye) is also susceptible to UV damage. There is evidence (https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2266015 ) UV exposure can cause macular degeneration, which is a disease that causes irreversible central vision loss.
Certain settings can also increase the risk of damage from the sun. Surfaces like windshields, water and snow can reflect UV radiation, so you have direct and reflected UV radiation exposure. In some cases, leaving your eyes unprotected from the sun can cause photokeratitis – more commonly known as snow blindness or welder’s burn. This is a temporary loss of vision caused by over exposure to UV radiation, which is similar to a sun burn on the skin.
To protect the eyes, it is important to wear sunglasses that provide both 100% UVA and UVB protection. Look for these stickers on any pair of sunglasses that you purchase, whether it is an inexpensive pair from the drug store or a branded pair from our office.
Do you need polarized sunglasses?
Polarized lenses help to reduce glare by blocking light that reflects off of surfaces like water, flat roads and car hoods. For this reason, polarized sunglasses are very popular among people who spend a lot of time near water. However, if you are bothered by glare and reflections on the road while driving, you could also benefit from polarized sunglasses.
There may also be times when you do not want polarized lenses. If you participate in snow sports like skiing and snowboarding, you will want to be able to see the reflection from icy patches to keep you safe. Polarized lenses may also cause reduced visibility on LCD displays such as bank machines and some boat and airplane displays.
If you are unsure of what is the best option for you, come in and talk to one of our knowledgeable team members today!