When you think of Memorial Day memories past what comes to mind? For some it may be barbecues with friends, yet others may visit a local beach or pool. Regardless of how you will be celebrating the long weekend this year, Memorial Day is the unofficial start to the summer season. As the days get longer and sun exposure increases, the threat of ultraviolet radiation (UV) magnifies. To best understand what you can do to protect yourself from harmful UV, it is important to know just what UV is and what it can do to your eyes.
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) comes naturally from the sun and is simply one forms of energy. Even though you may have only started hearing about UV and the effect on your body, UV is as old as the earth itself. Whereas we often think that UV pertains mostly to sunburns and skin cancer, UV rays can also be very harmful to your eyes. Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays can be linked to eye damage including cataracts, macular degeneration, pingueculae and pterygia and photokeratitis that can cause temporary vision loss.
Additionally, there is new research which suggests the sun’s high-energy visible (HEV) radiation- also called “blue light” may increase your long-term risk of macular degeneration. People with low blood plasma levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants are especially at risk of retinal damage from HEV radiation.
To protect your eyes from harmful solar radiation, sunglasses should be worn to block 100 percent of UV rays and also absorb the most HEV rays. To protect as much of the delicate skin around your eyes are possible, try at least one pair of sunglasses with large lenses or a close-fitting wraparound style. Depending on your outdoor lifestyle, you may also be interested in performance sunglasses or sport sunglasses. Talk to your eye provider about the sunglasses for you.