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May is UV awareness month!


Most people are aware of how UV light can damage your skin. However, have you thought about your eyes?

There are three types of UV rays: A, B, and C.

UVA rays are blocked by the Earth’s ozone layer.

UVB rays are what causes a sunburn on your skin. This can also cause a sunburn on the front of your eye (the cornea) known as photokeratitis.

UVC rays can actually pass through your cornea and penetrate into the inside of the eye. These are the rays that can contribute to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration.

What can I do to protect my eyes?

Research indicates that most of the damage we do to our eyes occurs before the age of 18. Part of the suspected reason is because the ocular structures are very clear at a young age and makes it easy for UV rays to pass through.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that you choose appropriate sunwear that blocks 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays, as well as screen out 75% to 90% of visible light. Keep in mind that the color of the lenses actually has nothing to do with the UV protection; it depends on what material the lenses are made of and what coatings have been applied to the lens. We even have contact lenses now that have UV protection built right into them!

Of course, wearing sunglasses when you are outdoors is important, but don’t forget about other sources that can cause UV damage such as tanning beds, welding machines, and lasers. It is important to protect your eyes during those activities as well.

Grab the sunscreen!

So as the days get longer and warmer, make sure to apply sunscreen to your skin and “sunscreen” to your eyes!


Top image by Flickr user Chris Fithall (location) used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharelike 4.0 License. Image has been cropped and modified from original. Image rights state commercial use and modifications allowed when image was obtained on 5/2/2017.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.