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Ultraviolet Awareness Month – Your Eyes and the Sun


By now, most Americans are familiar with the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) rays to your skin, (particularly sunburn and skin cancer) and the importance of using UV blocking sunscreen and avoiding direct contact with the sun during outdoor activities. What is less known is that ultraviolet rays and other types of radiation from the sun can also cause severe damage to your eyes.

If you are thinking of leaving the house without proper eye protection, think about this: Continual contact with harmful ultraviolet radiation has been linked to damage to the eye.

Risks of UV Eye Exposure

Exposure to large quantities of ultraviolet radiation for a short interval can result in photokeratitis meaning a ''sunburn on the eye'', which results in pain, blurred vision or even temporary vision loss. In the long run, UV exposure can lead to more threatening eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, which can cause loss of sight. Those who use welding machines, tanning beds and lasers are also at increased risk of exposure to UV radiation.

How to Choose Protective Sunglasses

To guard your eyes from threatening UV rays, you should be careful to select sunglasses that completely block all UV rays. Stick with shades that specify they are ''UV 400'', which indicates that they prevent all UV light from entering your eyes (400 refers to the wavelength of light in nanometers).

The size of your sunglasses is also important. Sunglasses with side protection can block dangerous ultraviolet light from entering from the sides and back of the frame.

You don't have to empty your pockets to have proper UV defense, but it's essential to be certain the sunglasses offer complete UV coverage. Many less-exclusive brands do offer proper UV coverage. Further, as well as guarding your eyes from the harmful sunlight, trendy shades are in style, so find something you love and have fun in the sun!