UV Protection Guide: How To Stay Sun Safe

sunglasses in display case

As we enter the summer months and the days get longer and brighter, many of us are looking forward to spending more time basking in the sun – whether it’s overseas, or in the UK heatwave that we’re all eagerly anticipating! When it comes to getting ready for the sunshine, most of us are pretty good at remembering to wear SPF, but there’s generally less importance placed on protecting your eyes from UV light.

UV (ultraviolet) light is a form of electromagnetic radiation that has a very short wavelength and is invisible to the human eye. It can cause eye problems because it penetrates the eye tissues more easily than visible light does. There are two types of UV rays; UVA and UVB. UVA can harm your central vision by damaging the macula, a part of the retina in the back of the eye. UVB can damage the front part of your eyes, the cornea and the lens, because this area absorbs the most UVB rays. UVB rays can generally cause more harm to your eyes than UVA.

Although UV exposure isn’t as high in the UK as it is in other countries, we still need to take it seriously. It’s also much higher in areas with reflective surfaces, like near water or even snow. So take extra care if you spend a lot of time skiing, snowboarding, or on boats to lower your chances of eye problems from overexposure to UV light.

What eye problems are linked to UV light?

Too much UV exposure can increase your risk of certain eye diseases. Wearing UV protection sunglasses can protect you from the following conditions:

Cataracts

Prolonged exposure to UV rays modifies lens proteins and leads to cloudy, blurry vision and impaired eyesight.

Age-related macular degeneration

There are links between overexposure to UV rays and an increased risk of AMD. In AMD, the breakdown of the macula, part of the light-sensitive retina in the back of the eye, blurs the central vision.

Cancers of the eyelid

Cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are linked to UV exposure. The sensitive skin around the eye is at as much risk as the eye itself, so overexposure to UV rays increases the risk of premature aging and skin cancers.

Pterygium

Also known as surfer’s eye, a pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that forms in the corner of the eye and can increase in size, extending to the cornea and covering the iris and pupil. People who spend long hours under the sun such as surfers, skiers, fishermen or farmers are at risk of this condition.

Photokeratitis

Photokeratitis is a painful eye condition that occurs from overexposure to UV light (both from the sun and from man-made sources like tanning beds). It’s similar to having a sunburnt eye and affects the thin surface layer of the cornea and the conjunctiva.

Snow blindness

Snow blindness is a form of photokeratitis caused by UV rays reflecting off ice and snow. It is particularly common in high mountains where the air is thinner and provides less protection from UV. So remember those skiing goggles on your next trip!

If you’re experiencing symptoms like blurry or cloudy vision and are concerned about any of the eye issues mentioned, book a 3D OCT eye exam for an accurate and fast diagnosis and treatment of potential problems.

How to protect your eyes from UV light

1. Wear eye glasses with UV protection

Whether it’s protected prescription sunglasses or a standard shop-bought pair, be sure to check the UV rating before you buy. There are many sunglasses out there that look great but don’t adequately protect from the sun. The best UV eye protection should have a 100% UV rating or UV400 for full protection.

2. Wear polarised lenses

Polarised lenses offer added protection from UV light. They are great at reflecting glare and are ideal for sports and driving in sunny conditions, providing unrivalled protection from harmful both UVA and UVB rays. The great news is that we are offering a free upgrade to polarised lenses when you choose a pair of frames for your sunglasses! Visit us at your local independent opticians practice to take advantage of this offer.

3. Wear a hat

Combining a wide-brimmed hat with your sunglasses is an excellent way to double down on your protection from UV rays. This is especially helpful if you wear narrow or small-framed sunglasses because it ensures the sensitive skin on the outer parts of your eye is still sheltered from the sun.

4. Never look directly at the sun!

It can be tempting on a beautiful day or even during a long-awaited eclipse, but it can damage the retina and cause serious damage to your eyes and this still applies if you’re wearing sunglasses.

5. Avoid tanning beds

Tanning beds use UV rays and pose the same risks to your eyes and skin as outdoor UV light does.

Stay safe from UV overexposure this summer and enjoy holidays, beach days and sunny barbecues risk-free. By taking precautions to protect yourself from harmful UV rays, like wearing polarised sunglasses to block UV, you can safely enjoy the season.

Get 50% off a second pair of lenses and save up to £510!

For the style-conscious who like to switch up their summer sunnies, we’re giving you 50% off an additional pair of lenses. If you have your eye on a pair of designer prescription sunglasses for your day-to-day and a stylish pair for your holiday, this offer means you can have them both. This offer is only around until the 30th of June, so make sure to visit us at your local independent opticians to take advantage and get summer ready!

 

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