The effects of UV radiation are cumulative.
There are three types of UV radiation. One type, called UV-C, is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not present any threat. That’s not true of the other two types, UV-A and UV-B. More and more scientific evidence is showing that exposure to both UV-A and UV-B can have adverse long- and short-term effects on your eyes and vision.
Overexposure to UV rays has been linked to age-related cataracts, pterygium, photokeratitis and corneal degenerative changes. These conditions can cause blurred vision, irritation, redness, tearing, temporary vision loss and, in some cases, blindness. There also appears to be a link between excessive summer sun exposure and retinal pigmentation.
The effects of sunlight exposure are cumulative; therefore, individuals whose work or recreational activities involve lengthy exposure to sunlight are at the greatest risk. UV radiation reflects off surfaces such as snow, water and white sand, so the risk is particularly high for people on beaches, boats or ski slopes. The risk for serious damage is greatest during the mid-day hours, generally from 10:00am to 3:00pm, and during summer months.
Children and teenagers are particularly susceptible to the sun’s damaging rays because they typically spend more time outdoors than adults, and the lenses of their eyes are more transparent than those of adults. The transparent lenses allow more short wavelength light to reach the retina of the eye.
You should purchase quality sunglasses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays. Doing so will block 99-100% of harmful UV rays. You should select the color of sunglass lens that is most appropriate for your particular outdoor activities. Certain colors will enhance depth perception, others are more appropriate for golfing, others are better for cycling, etc.
Polarized lenses reduce glare and are especially important for sun sensitive individuals, people who fish, and people who enjoy water activities such as boating. Always be sure that your sunglasses provide the proper fit and adequate coverage. Polycarbonate lenses are recommended for all outdoor sports as they provide the most impact resistance.
Tip of the day: Inexpensive, fashion sunglasses do not typically provide adequate protection. Just because a lens is dark or tinted, does not mean there is UV-A and UV-B protection.