Ultraviolet Radiation ( UV ) and the Eye.

Ultraviolet Radiation ( UV ) and the Eye.

While one cannot underestimate the beneficial effects of sunlight on the human body, too much of it can in fact cause the reverse.

In particular, the eyes, being exposed to all forms of light whilst they are open, are subject to a variety of the effects of UV rays, and care should be taken to ensure that protective measures are in place to safeguard the workings of the eye, the second most complicated organ in our body, the brain being number one!

So why is sunlight damaging to our eyes?

The sun emits two types of UV rays- UVA and UVB, both of which can be damaging to the skin as well as the eyes.

UVB rays will burn your skin if it is left unprotected, and the same is true of the eyes.


Cataract is probably the most common sight loss condition caused by long term exposure to UV rays. The natural lens in your eye becomes cloudy gradually as it absorbs UV light; this in turn can cause visual impairment including glare, affecting quality of life.

Research also suggests that repeated exposure to UV rays contributes to the development of Macular Degeneration, an eye condition that causes damage to the cells in the retina, responsible for giving you detailed vision. Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly population.


Other conditions that arise from prolonged exposure to UV light are  a Pterygium– a yellowy-brown area of discolouration on the whites of the eyes, often resulting in a dry eye with symptoms of grittiness; Photokeratitis or Snow Blindness, often at high altitude when skiing or mountaineering; and Melanoma, a form of cancer of the eye.


Did you know, a massive 50% of your lifetime UV exposure occurs before the age of 18?

Children spend more time outdoors than adults, and so it is extremely important to ensure their eyes are well protected from UV light, as much as it is important that their skin does not get sunburn. Wraparound sunglasses and/or a baseball cap or hat with a wide brim are good ways to give protection.

You can even get very good quality sunglasses with adjustable comfort straps for babies and toddlers.


The most common times of the day when your eyes are most vulnerable to UV light exposure from the sun are early mornings and late afternoons, unlike the skin!


Sunglasses are almost essential in this day and age, not just as a fashion accessory, but in providing good levels of protection to the eyes and the adjoining facial structures.

Polarised sunglasses are very effective at reducing glare, especially for outdoor pursuits like fishing, trekking and mountaineering.


In many sports, such as golf, cycling and cricket, the use of specific filters to enhance contrast and reduce glare, make a noticeable difference to overall performance as well as comfort for the participant.


And for many people who wear glasses, there are numerous options to have quality performance sunglasses, that not only enhance your vision but will give you the peace of mind that your eyes are adequately protected.


To find out more about how you can protect your eyes from UV exposure, or indeed any aspect of your eye care, email info@eyewiseopticians. co.uk, or telephone 01895 234563. The friendly team at Eyewise will be only too glad to help!


Here’s to a bit of sun and the enjoyment it brings!


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