The Sun, UV Radiation and Your Eyes
Keep an Eye on Ultraviolet (UV) Safety
Eye medical doctors (ophthalmologists) caution us that too much exposure to UV light raises the risks of eye diseases, including cataract, growths on the eye, and cancer. Strong exposure to snow reflection can also quickly cause painful damage called snow blindness.
Growths on the eye, such as pterygium, can show up in our teens or twenties, especially in surfers, skiers, fishermen, farmers, or anyone who spends long hours under the mid-day sun or in the UV-intense conditions found near rivers, oceans, and mountains.
Diseases like cataract and eye cancers can take many years to develop, but each time we're out in the sun without protection we could be adding damage that adds to our risks for these serious disorders. Babies and kids need to wear hats and sunglasses for this very reason. People of all ages should take precautions whenever they are outdoors.
Follow these tips to protect your eyes from the sun all year long:
- Sun damage to eyes can occur anytime during the year, not just in the summertime, so be sure to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats whenever you're outside.
- Don't be fooled by clouds: the sun's rays can pass through haze and thin clouds.
- Never look directly at the sun. Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, which is damage to the eye's retina from solar radiation.
- Don't forget the kids and older family members: everyone is at risk, including children and senior citizens. Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses.
UV Light: Good in Moderation for a Good Night's Sleep
As we sleep, our eyes enjoy continuous lubrication. During sleep the eyes also clear out irritants such as dust, allergens or smoke that may have accumulated during the day. Some research suggests that light-sensitive cells in the eye are important to our ability to regulate wake-sleep cycles. This may be more critical as we age, when more people have problems with insomnia. While it's important that we protect our eyes from overexposure to UV light, our eyes also need minimal exposure to natural light every day to help maintain normal sleep-wake cycles.
Time Outdoors May Prevent Nearsightedness in Kids
Research shows that children who spend more time outside exposed to daylight may reduce their risk of developing nearsightedness. So not only is exercise great for eye health, but now it seem that getting that exercise while outside may be additionally beneficial. Taking your children outside to play may not only help lower their risk for nearsightedness, but will also teach them good habits for a lifetime of eye health.