July has been designated as National Ultraviolet Safety Month, and there’s no better time to talk about UV safety than when the weather starts to heat up and the sun stays out all day. UV safety includes protecting your eyes because many people are unaware that extended exposure to UV radiation can cause long-term eye damage.
Eye safety is unfortunately easy to neglect
Most of us are taught over and over again from the time we’re young how important it is to use sun protection for the skin, especially in the warmer months. However, these lectures rarely extend to eye safety, but it too is an important component of UV radiation. Just because you can’t see immediate damage to the eyes because of UV radiation the way you can with a sunburn doesn’t mean you don’t have to take precautions.
UV eye damage can lead to serious complications
Just as UV radiation can result in the development of skin cancer over time, it can also lead to long-term and serious eye problems if you aren’t careful. The same free radicals that are believed to cause cancer in the body can form inside the lens of the eye because of UV rays. Often times, the end result is the formation of cataracts, or clouding of the lens.
Cataracts can develop slowly without symptoms for a long time, but eventually you may have to have traditional or laser cataract surgery to correct the condition. UV radiation can also lead to other dangerous vision problems, such as macular degeneration.
Tips for safeguarding your eye health this summer
Make no mistake, sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement. They are the most important tool when it comes to defending your eyes against UV radiation. Keep in mind, however, that you can’t just wear any old pair of sunglasses and expect to be protected.
First, you want to make sure that your sunglasses indicate that they protect against 100% of UV rays. Also, consider buying a pair that provides extended coverage around the sides of your eyes, where UV rays can also enter.
Different colored lenses and polarized lenses may provide ancillary benefits, such as reducing glare or increasing contrast, but they do not offer any additional protection against UV light. It’s important to note that sunglasses offering comprehensive UV protection don’t have to be expensive. They are available at all price points.
Let UV safety month spur you to stay on top of your eye health
Don’t let this July pass without making a commitment to protecting your eye health. Wear effective sunglasses whenever you’ll be outside for extended periods of time during the daylight, and schedule a checkup with your eye doctor to ensure that you catch the formation of any cataracts or other conditions early.
Florida Eye Specialists has a variety of cataract specialists on staff to provide you with a professional consultation and help determine a course of treatment if necessary. Request your appointment today!