The skin is often the first thought when it comes to sun protection, but it is just as important to protect your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays. The sun omits several types of radiation. This includes sunlight, heat, and ultraviolet rays which can cause sunburn and sun damage to eyes.
How to Protect Your Eyes
- Wear eye protection such as sunglasses that filter out UV rays. Also be mindful that the rays can radiate from different directions, and can also be reflected off shiny surfaces, including mirrors, water, sand, and even snow. The safest sunglasses should also have UV filtering lenses— these are the best to avoid any sun damage to eyes, but not all sunglasses have them.
- Complete the look with a broad-brimmed hat that can shield the rest of your face from the sun, further reducing the risk of any sun damage to eyes
- Don’t assume your car windows will filter out UV rays. If your windows don’t, you may also need to wear sunglasses when driving.
- Don’t look directly at the sun. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often you do it without thinking about it.
Sun Damage to Eyes – Symptoms and Conditions
Those who spend lots of time in the sun i.e. those who live in hot climates, those who go on lots of holidays, and those who work outside in direct sunlight are most at risk of developing UV associated eye damage.
Cataracts are a clouding of the eye lens which develops gradually over time. At worst, this condition can completely destroy eye vision.
Symptoms: Blurred vision and seeing rings of light.
Also known as “surfer’s eye”, pterygium is an overgrowth of the conjunctiva which is the clear layer on the surface of the eyeball. Pterygia are flesh-colored or pink in appearance. If left untreated the condition may also grow across the cornea affecting the vision and may also need to be surgically removed.
Symptoms: Blurred vision.
3. Eye Cancer
Melanomas usually develop in the skin, although they can develop on and around the eyelids as well. Cancer can also develop in the eye as uveal or choroidal melanoma. These cancers can affect the eyeball itself, or the conjunctiva, which is the thin layer that covers the front of the eye.
Symptoms: Blurred vision, shadows, flashes of light, dark patches, partial or total vision loss, eye bulging, a lump on the eyelid or in the eye, severe pain.
Is Sun Damage to Eyes Reversible?
In many cases yes, however, it depends on the type of damage, and usually requires surgical intervention. It is important that any eye condition is treated early in order to improve long-term outlook.
If you are going to be spending time in the sun, make sure you follow our eye safety tips to prevent sun damage to your eyes and your vision. Maintain eye health all year round by visiting your eye care specialist frequently for eye exams and digital retinal imaging. Visit the professionals at Eyelux Optometry for expert eye care.