The effect that UV rays have on the skin is well known. The American Cancer Society has long advocated for the use of protection outdoors, citing the link between UV rays and skin cancer. Many people also know that when they go outdoors they should wear sunglasses with good UV protection. It is fairly common knowledge that UV exposure can damage eyes, but not many people know that full extent of eye conditions, diseases, and complications that can occur as a result. Research shows a distinct link between UV rays and cataracts which can lead to vision loss.
What are UV Rays?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is primarily produced by sunlight. However, tanning beds and lamps can also be sources. UV rays are the primary cause of skin and eye damage from the sun, yet they are a minute part of the rays that the sun emits. These rays affect the tissues like skin and eyes at the cellular level. They attack the DNA of those cells, damaging them and causing a number of issues like cancer and cataracts.
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts is a condition marked by a clouding of the lens of the eye. In a healthy, undamaged eye, the lens is clear. However, cataracts cause that lens to become foggy so that vision is hazy, blurry, or less colorful. Some of the symptoms of cataracts include:
- Photophobia or sensitivity to light
- Vision disturbances like seeing double or blurry vision
- Bright colors appear yellowed or faded
- Difficulty seeing at night
Many of these symptoms can lead to other conditions like headaches and migraines. The light sensitivity can make it very difficult to go outside during the day and even bright lights inside can be painful. If left untreated, cataracts can lead to vision loss.
Protecting Your Eyes from UV Rays
UV rays are present all year round, even on cloudy days, so it is important to protect your eyes every time you go outside. Double up on protection by wearing a wide-brimmed hat as well as sunglasses that block the UV rays. You should also never look directly at the sun, especially during an eclipse. This can cause solar retinopathy which is severe damage caused when the sun burns the eye.
At Florida Eye Specialists, patient care is our top concern. If you suspect you have cataracts or damage from UV rays, schedule an appointment with our team. For more than 25 years we have been helping our patients improve their eye health and take optimal care of their eyes and vision.