Does UV light really damage your vision?

YES! UV radiation, from natural sunlight or artificial UV rays, can damage your vision. In Colorado we see so much sunlight, and with the altitude we are closer to the sun, that we have an even higher risk for our vision to be affected by UV rays.

What is UV Light?

UV (ultraviolet) light or radiation is a component of solar radiation. There are three types, UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. The artificial sources come from things like welding units, tanning beds, and lasers.

All radiation is a form of energy, most of which cannot be seen by the human eye. UV radiation is essentially the energy produced by the sun.

How does UV light affect vision?

There are long term and short-term vision issues associated with UV light. Some of the most common vision diseases that are associated with UV radiation are:

  1. Macular degeneration – there are several types of macular degeneration but all affect the retina (the macula) resulting in vision loss or distortion.
  2. Cataracts – similar to macular degeneration, cataracts can be caused by many things. This is the clouding of the lens in the eye.
  3. Pterygium – a pink tissue growth on the cornea of the eye and will grow until the pupil is covered.
  4. Skin Cancer – although it may not seem like an eye disease, skin cancer can be linked to prolonged UV exposure on the eyelids.
  5. Photokeratitis – also known and snow blindness. This is the result of UV-B rays long term without proper eye wear. It can be painful and create vision loss.

Are you at risk?

Everyone! If you go outside, you are at risk. Children can be at the highest risk because their eyes are developing and typically they are not wearing sunglasses to protect their eyes. Some questions you want to ask yourself to see if you are at a higher risk are:

  1. Do you spend long hours in the sun? Ski, mountain climb, swim, go to the beach?
  2. Do you use a sunlamp, tanning bed, or both?
  3. Do you live in the mountains?
  4. Have you ever had cataract surgery?
  5. Are you on medications that may increase light sensitivity?
  6. Are you a welder or medical technician that works around artificial UV rays?

How can I protect my eyes?

Reading this blog is the first step. Educating yourself on your risk level is the first step in protection. Know the dangers. UV rays come from all over, not just the sun but also from rays bouncing off of water, snow, sand, cars, etc.

The best way to protect your eyes is to meet with one of our optician’s so we can get the best solution for your lifestyle. Additionally, you should wear hats and ensure that if you are using glasses, they are 99-100% UV blocking, screen out 75-90% visible light, and include polarization to protect your eyes from rays bouncing off of water, snow, sand etc.

Some patients need wrap frames to provide additional coverage. Don’t forget the kids! Make sure they have a pair of polarized sunglasses for outside.

Want to set up an appointment with our opticians to get your perfect pair of sunglasses and stop that snow glare from hurting your eyes?? Contact us today!