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Ultraviolet Awareness Month – Your Eyes and the Sun


The majority of Americans are aware of the dangers of Ultraviolet (UV) rays to your skin, (particularly sunburn and skin cancer) and the need for using sunscreen and avoiding direct contact with the sun during outdoor activities. But did you know that ultraviolet rays and other harmful types of radiation from the sun are also a risk to your eyes?

If you tend to face the sun without sunglasses, think again. Continual contact with harmful UV radiation has been seen to be a cause of eye damage.

UV Risks to Vision

Exposure to excessive amounts of UV over a short interval can result in photokeratitis which means a ''sunburn on the eye'', leading to pain, blurry vision or even temporary blindness. In the long run, UV exposure can result in more threatening eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can cause loss of sight. Just like the real sun, tanning beds present a substantial risk of overexposure to UV.

How to Choose Protective Sunglasses

To protect your eyes from threatening UV rays, sunglasses should completely block all UV rays. Stick with sunglasses labeled ''UV 400'', which means that they prevent all UV light (400 refers to the wavelength of light in nanometers).

You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Sunglasses with side protection can block harmful UV light from entering from the sides and back of the frame.

You don't have to spend a lot of money on your sunglasses to have enough UV coverage, but it's essential to be sure the sunglasses provide complete solar protection. Many less-exclusive brands do offer proper defense against the harmful effects of exposure to UV light. Further, in addition to keeping your eyes protected from the harmful sunlight, trendy sunglasses are all the rage, so find something you love and have fun in the sun!