Spending The Day Soaking Up The Sun? What You Should Know About Protecting Your Eyes

When you think of sun damage to your eyes, your first thought is probably lazy summer afternoons on the beach. The fact is, your eyes are vulnerable to sun damage all year long. If you don't take the steps to protect them, even the sun reflecting from a winter snowfall can cause damage to your cornea. In fact, winter sun reflections can be just as hazardous as the bright summer sunlight. Here's a look at some of the biggest threats to your eyes from sun damage and how to protect them.

Ultraviolet Light

Ultraviolet light has had a bad reputation for years, and it's blamed for many different health problems and concerns. Few of those concerns address the direct threat to your eyes posed by ultraviolet radiation. Exposure to ultraviolet light can lead to cataract development.

Additionally, unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays can lead to a sunburn on your eye's surface. It's a condition called photokeratitis, otherwise known as snow blindness. It can cause lasting damage to your eyes, so it's important that you take steps to shield your eyes from direct exposure.

Skin Cancer

The tissue around your eyes is more sensitive than most. That means that those skin cells are at a potentially greater risk of developing cancerous cells from sun exposure. It's in your best interest to protect that skin not only with sunglasses but also with a sunscreen product or makeup created with sunscreen.

Blue Light Damage

Long-term exposure to the violet or blue spectrum of solar light increases your risk of developing macular degeneration. If you're sensitive to the sun or you have a family history of macular degeneration, you're at even greater risk. The best way to protect yourself is to limit the direct exposure your eyes receive to sunlight.

Now that you know about the risks that your eyes face from the sun, you can take the necessary steps to protect them. The single best thing you can do is wear sunglasses all year. Choose a pair with the highest rating for blocking UVA and UVB rays, because those are the most damaging to your eyes. You should also look for a pair that filters visible light. Opt for grey lenses to mute the light intensity without altering your visible light spectrum. This reduces the amber or black hue that you see around things when you wear lenses that are tinted other colors. You should also talk with an eye care professional, like those at  DC Eye Associates, to monitor your vision for any changes.