If you look forward to the warmer months of summer so that you can spend more time outdoors, chances are you always take certain precautions when it comes to protecting your skin. You are probably well aware that the damaging rays of the sun can cause skin cancer. In fact, one out of five Americans will get skin cancer during their lifetime. It is equally important to protect your eyes when you're out in the sun.
Eye Disorders Caused by Sun Exposure
When your eyes are exposed to the damaging UV and UVB rays of the sun, it can cause certain eye disorders. Some of these include:
- Cataracts - this clouding of the lens in the eye affects the vision and usually occurs as you age, but it can also be caused when your eyes are exposed to ultraviolet rays for prolonged periods of time
- Pinguecula - characterized by a yellow bump on the eye that's formed by a thickening of the conjuctiva, which is usually caused by sun exposure
- Macular Degeneration - one of the risk factors of getting this incurable eye disorder includes exposure to the sun's high-energy visible (HEV) radiation
One more eye condition that is caused by sun exposure is photokeratitis, otherwise known as sunburn of the cornea. This painful condition happens when your eyes are exposed to UV rays. While symptoms usually only last between 24 and 48 hours, they have been known to last up to one week.
Tips for Protecting Your Eyes
One of the best things you can do to help protect your eyes from the damaging rays of the sun is wear a good pair of sunglasses. This means not just buying a cheap pair at your local convenience store. You should invest in a good pair, ones that will protect your eyes from UVB and UVA rays, along with HEV radiation. In order to provide maximum protection, the sunglasses should also fit properly. If you need a prescription pair of sunglasses, your optometrist should be able to help.
Wearing a hat while outdoors can also help shade your eyes from the sun. You should also be aware of the following risk factors that can also contribute to eye damage while spending time outside:
- The time of day
- Your geographic location
- The altitude
Even if it's cloudy outside, you are still at risk when spending time outdoors. When it comes to protecting your eyes, it's better to be safe than sorry and wear eye protection at all times while outside.