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Protecting your Eyes from Sunlight

Protecting your Eyes from Sunlight

, by Dr. Jeff Pearl, MD, 1 min reading time


It has long been suggested that sunlight, specifically UV rays are harmful to one’s eyes. We have all heard “Don’t stare at the sun, you will go blind”. Mom may be more right than you know. Solar radiation, UV-A and UV-B rays can have both short and long-term effects on your eyes. Just like your skin, short-term exposure to UV rays can cause sunburn of the eyes called photokeratitis. Symptoms include red eyes, tearing, a gritty feeling in your eyes, and sensitivity to light.

Although this is usually self-limiting, just like sunburn of the skin, long-term UV exposure can have more permanent effects. UV exposure has been related to the development of cataracts (a cloudy lens) and retinal damage. There is a cumulative effect so the older you are, and to some extent the sunnier climate you live in, the quicker this damage may occur. Loss of the ozone layer is making this problem worse by allowing sunlight, and hence, UV rays to reach the surface of the earth.

There is good news however. Wearing sunglasses that block out 99-100% ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays is of great benefit. Start wearing sunglasses early in life, and be consistent with their use. Make sure that the lenses state that they block out 99-100% of ultraviolet light. Bright sun and warm, dry climate and air pollution can also irritate and affect eye health. Healthy tips include wearing your cool shades, moisturizing drops (if you’re prone to dry eyes), good hygiene, proper eye nutrition and supplements, and of course, don’t stare at the sun. You literally could go blind.


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