OSEA Safety Blog

Protect your eyes with UV Safety Awareness

Wednesday, August 17, 2022 Amanda Coniglio

When we talk about the harmful affects of UV rays, we tend to focus solely on the skin – sunburn, pre-mature aging, and skin cancer. We know that sunscreen and special clothing can reduce the risks for the skin, but we don’t typically focus on the harm that can be done to our eyes.

UV light damages the cells in your eyes, typically on your retina. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you can even sunburn your eyes – repeatedly damaging eye tissue can cause you to develop chronic vision problems or blindness. It’s important to remember that you can be exposed to UV rays whenever you are outside, regardless of season or cloud cover. Other means of exposure include sunlight reflecting off of snow and other reflective surfaces; tanning booths; mercury vapor lights; some types of halogen, fluorescent, or incandescent lights; and some types of lasers. If you take certain medications, you may be more sensitive to UV radiation in the eyes or on the skin.

The following are some eye conditions that can be caused by exposure to UV Rays:

  • Macular Degeneration – most common cause of vision loss occurring when the retina begins to deteriorate.
  • Cataracts – clouding of the lens in your eye
  • Pterygium – growth of the conjunctiva or mucous membrane covering the white part of the eye over the cornea
  • Corneal Sunburn – this happens due to being exposed to high UV-B rays – this causes eye pain, tearing, swelling, redness, and sensitivity to bright light
  • Conjunctival cancer - eye cancer, typically on the surface of the eye

Ways to keep your eyes safe from the damages caused by UV Rays:

  • Wear UV-absorbent sunglasses that protect the eyes from both UVA and UVB rays even on cloudy days
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat with sunglasses on sunny days – this can reduce exposure to UV rays by up to as much as 50%
  • Know the effects of your medications – particularly if they make you more sensitive to UV radiation – if they do, take extra precautions when you leave the house

We’ve addressed the importance of protecting your eyesight in previous articles, this one offers further information on protecting your eyes against UV radiation. Your eyesight is valuable, and as humans we often overlook things that can have long term negative effects. Wear those sunglasses!

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