How UV Rays Affect Your Eyes

Everyone knows that spending too much time in the sun can damage the skin. But, many people do not realize that the sun can also affect the eyes. Over time, these effects can turn into eye problems that impact your ability to see. Both UV radiation from natural and artificial sources can cause damage, so it’s important to take care of your eyes along with your skin when spending time outdoors.

To give your eyes the attention they deserve, it’s important to understand how the sun’s rays affect the eyes. Let’s learn more.

How UVA and UVB Rays Impact Eyesight

There are two types of rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin. UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and aging skin.

UVB rays also play a role in the development of skin cancer, including malignant melanoma. Though there are fewer UVB rays compared to UVA rays, they need to be protected against. UVB rays affect the front part of the eye – the cornea and lens – because this is what absorbs the rays most.

What Types of Eye Problems Can Develop?

The more time you spend out in the sun, the greater risk you have of damaging the eyes. The most common problems that UV rays can cause are:

-Macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is caused by damage to the macula, which can occur from too much sun exposure.

-Cataracts. UV rays can cause cataracts to form. In fact, it’s estimated that 10% of cataracts are related to sun exposure.

-Pterygium. Also known as “surfer’s eye”, this condition consists of small growths that appear on the conjunctiva of the eye.

-Skin cancer. Skin cancer can form in and around the eyelids due to too much UV exposure.

The best way to prevent damage to your eyes is by wearing the proper sunglasses when you’re outdoors – even on cloudy days. Choose eyewear that blocks most UVA and UVB rays and screens out most visible light. It should also be in good condition. Imperfections allow the rays to sneak through, potentially damaging the eyes. 
The next time you’re outdoors, give your eyes some attention. They need protection just as much as your skin.