To help spread awareness of the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, July is UV Safety Awareness Month. While you may remember to pack sunscreen when you head outdoors this summer, it is equally important to be mindful of eye protection. The same ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun that increases your risk of developing skin cancer can also cause damage to your eyes. Even indoor UV light from tanning beds can have damaging effects on the eyes. Increased UV exposure can lead to a growth on the eye known as a pterygium. Studies have also shown possible links between excessive UV exposure and an increased risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts.
UV-blocking sunglasses are a simple way to protect your eyes while spending time in the sun. Be sure to choose sunglasses labeled as “UV400” or “100% UV protection” to ensure that you are blocking harmful UV-A and UV-B rays. Some sunglasses offer UV protection through a coating over the lenses which can lose effect over time with repeated wiping during cleaning. If you are wondering if your sunglasses are providing adequate UV protection, stop by the clinic and we can check for you!
If you spend a lot time around water, consider wrap around sunglasses to protect you from UV radiation from the sides. Another tip to avoid excess UV exposure is to wear a hat (broad-brimmed ones work best).
For more information on UV eye safety, please visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology website.
This post was written in part by Janice Maliakkal, a 4th year medical student at Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso, Texas.