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Protecting your eyes from UV rays

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Dear Reader, the sun provides us with many health benefits, and at the same time it can sometimes prove to be our worst enemy. Ultraviolet or UV radiation from the sun has the potential to damage your eyes. The natural ozone layer that prevents UV rays from reaching the earth is slowly diminishing, causing new challenges for your eyes and skin.{{more}} The direct, strong sunlight can cause burns to the cornea and conjunctiva as well as lead to eye disease. The risk of eye disease increases with the duration of the exposure to the sun. It is for these reasons that you should wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from UV rays. Other problems that can occur as a result of exposure to UV rays include welder’s flash, cataracts, pterygium, pinguecula formations and some forms of skin cancer.

People working under particular conditions (such as outdoor activities) should definitely ensure that they get protective eyewear for themselves. Ultraviolet light has three layers – UVA, UVB and UVC.

UVC rays are usually absorbed by the external layers of the atmosphere and as such are not directly harmful to the eyes.. UVB rays are harmful to eyes and skin, and cause the problems already outlined.

UVA rays remain the topic of much research and debate. Protective sunglasses should provide adequate protection from UVA and UVB rays. In order to protect your eyes in the best possible way, look for sunglasses that provide 100% protection from the harmful rays. You could even wear a visor along with your sun glasses for extra protection. It is important to wear the sun glasses even on overcast days, because the UV rays can still harm your eyes in the shade, and the intensity of sunlight doesn’t matter.

Contact lenses that offer UV protection are available and it is a good idea to try these, as they may help protect your cornea and the structure beneath them. However, you will still need to wear your protective sunglasses to ensure the safety of the eye tissue that the contact lenses cannot protect.

The frightening thing about protection is that even if a treatment completely blocks UV, the light that filters into the eye from around the glasses will still be able to affect it. That’s why it is important to wear wide brimmed hats to provide even further protection. Protecting your eyes from UV radiation using appropriate means will help you avoid vision problems.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us.

Send questions to: [email protected]
Tel: 784 456-1210