UV Safety Awareness


July is UV safety month. While we all know and take the necessary precautions to protect our skin from harmful UV rays, but when was the last time you thought about the effect of UV rays on your eyes? The American Optometric Association (AOA) describes two types of negative effects caused by UV rays to the eye: short-term problems caused by overexposure and long-term problems that can lead to permanent damage.

Photokeratitis is a short-term condition that is often described as a ‘sunburn of the eye.’ Symptoms such as pain, intense tears, eyelid twitching, discomfort from bright light, and constricted pupils are common with photokeratitis. Prolonged exposure to the UV light can sometimes result in macular degeneration (blurring or lack of vision in the center of the visual field), cataracts (a reduction of vision due to clouding of the lens of the eye), pterygium (abnormal pink tissue on the white of the eye), and skin cancer around eyelids (UV-A and UV-B radiation).

There is a relatively solution to prevent harmful UV light damage to the eye, sunglasses with the correct UV protection (99-100% UV protection). Don’t just choose sunglasses to make a fashion statement, make sure they can also protect your eyes.

You are at higher risk for UV-related eye damage if you:

  • Work long hours outdoors (during peak hours between 10:00 a.m. - 3 p.m.)
  • Have a family history of eye cancer
  • Have light-colored eyes
  • Spend time at the beach without sunglasses
  • Don’t wear sunglasses and/or hats outside (even on cloudy days)
  • Are around water, sand, snow, and ice without eye protection

A new pair of sunglasses is also the perfect opportunity to schedule your annual vision exam.