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May is Ultraviolet Awareness Month


Thanks to education to increase knowledge of the threats of Ultraviolet (UV) rays to your skin, (which include sunburn and skin cancer), most know about the necessity of applying sunblock and avoiding direct contact with the sun during outdoor activities. What is less known is that UV and other harmful types of radiation from the sun are also a threat to your eyes.

If you are considering going outside without proper eye protection, think again. Frequent exposure to harmful UV rays has been shown to cause eye damage.

Risks of UV Eye Exposure

Intense short term exposure to UV can cause photokeratitis which means a ''sunburn on the eye'', which results in pain, blurred vision or even temporary vision loss. In the long run, UV exposure can cause more threatening eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can be a threat to vision. Just like the real thing, tanning beds pose a substantial threat of overexposure to UV.

How to Choose Protective Sunglasses

For effective UV defense, sunglasses should completely block all UV rays. Look for sunglasses labeled ''UV 400'', which means that they block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers (which includes both UVA and UVB rays, both known to enter the atmosphere).

The size of your sunglasses is also important. Wraparound sunglasses can block harmful UV rays from entering from the sides and back of the frame.

Individuals whose work or recreation involves lengthy exposure to light from the sun are at greatest risk for damage to their eyes. UV can be reflected from bright areas such as snow, water, and white sand and poses the greatest risk from 10 am to 3 pm and during the summer. UV radiation levels increase nearer to the equator and at high altitudes. It's important to speak to an eye care professional and to know the hazards of UV exposure. The simple act of putting on your sunglasses can be the key to preserving your precious vision. 


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