What is UV radiation?
In sunny climates where it is common to receive sunshine all year round, such as the Middle East, it’s important to protect your eyes from sun exposure.
The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is a form of energy similar to visible light or X-rays, and is capable of damaging our skin and our eyes. Sunlight is the main source of UV radiation and emits UVA and UVB rays, both of which have harmful effects. UVA rays can result in aging of the skin and UVB rays can cause sunburn.
UV rays are strongest in the middle of the day and during peak summer months. If you are closer to the equator, UV rays are much stronger.
How does UV radiation affect our eyes?
UV radiation can cause small uncomfortable and often noticable vascular growths on the white part of the eye, such as pterygium and pinguecula. They are most common in people who spend a large amount of time under the mid-day sun, such as surfers, fishermen, farmers, and may require surgical removal.
Protecting your eyes when you’re out in the sun not only may prevent ptergium and pinguecula formation, it may also help to lower the risk of developing more serious conditions, like ocular cancer and eyelid cancers, and in addition may lower the risk of developing cateracts.
- Sun damage to your eyes can happen all year, especially
in sunnier climates. Make sure to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and
broad-rimmed hats when you are out and about.
- When buying sunglasses, look for labels that say either 99% or 100% UVA and UVB protection or UV 400 protection.
- UV rays can also pass through clouds, so remember to use sun protection even when it’s cloudy.
- Never look directly at the sun. This can cause severe damage to the retina, even during an eclipse.
- Help kids and the elderly protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses.