Steps to Protect Eyes From Harmful UV Rays
Betsy van Die
you a sun worshipper who cannot wait to hit the beach once summer
arrives? Do you live in a climate that is sunny year-round or
does your profession necessitate being outside a great deal
of time? Most people are aware of the potential damage ultraviolet
(UV) rays can do to the skin, but are less aware that anyone
who spends time in the sun runs the risk of developing eye damage
caused by exposure to these same rays.
UV radiation, especially UV-A and UV-B, has been shown to be
harmful to the eye.
UV-A penetrates deep into the eye and may injure the macula,
the part of the retina responsible for sight in the center field
of vision. Photokeratitis, also known as corneal sunburn, is
a result of intense exposure to UV-B. It is most common among
individuals that spend long hours on the beach or ski slopes
without proper eye protection. It can be extremely painful and
can result in temporary loss of vision.
Furthermore, UV rays may contribute to various eye diseases
including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract.
The best defense for anyone going outside is to wear sunglasses
that screen 99 to 100 percent of UV rays, or brimmed hats. When
selecting sunglasses for children, one should choose glasses
that suit children’s active lifestyles. The glasses should be
made of impact resistant polycarbonate, lenses should not pop
out of frames, and the frames should be bendable. In addition,
a wide brimmed hat can help maximize protection for children,
as it can cut the amount of UV exposure in half.
Prevent Blindness America is offering two free brochures: Ultraviolet
Radiation: A Hazard to Sight, and Sunglasses:
Selecting Good Protection for Your Eyes. Call 1-800-331-2020
to receive either of these free brochures.#
van Die is the director of media relations for Prevent Blindness
America (PBA), the oldest volunteer eye health organization
in the United States. With national headquarters located in
northwest suburban Chicago, PBA has field offices in 24 states
including New York.