The sun supports all life on our planet, but its life-giving rays also pose dangers.
The sun’s primary danger is in the form of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation is a component of solar radiation, but it can also be given off by artificial sources like welding machines, tanning beds and lasers.
Most are aware of the harm UV radiation can do to the skin, but many may not realize that exposure to UV radiation can harm the eyes or that other components of solar radiation can also affect vision.
There are three types of UV radiation: UV-C is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not present any threat; UV-A and UV-B radiation can have adverse long- and short-term effects on the eyes and vision.
If your eyes are exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period of time, you are likely to experience an effect called photokeratitis.
Like a “sunburn of the eye”, photokeratitis may be painful and include symptoms such as red eyes, a foreign body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. Fortunately, this is usually temporary and rarely causes permanent damage to the eyes.
Long-term exposure to UV radiation, however, can be more serious. Scientific studies and research have shown that exposure to small amounts of UV radiation over a period of many years increases the chance of developing a cataract and may cause damage to the retina, a nerve-rich lining of the eye that is used for seeing. Additionally, chronic exposure to shorter wavelength visible light (i.e. blue and violet light) may also be harmful to the retina.locking blue light
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The longer the eyes are exposed to solar radiation, the greater the risk of developing later in life such conditions as cataracts or macular degeneration. Since it is not clear how much exposure to solar radiation will cause damage, the AOA recommends wearing quality sunglasses that offer UV protection and wearing a hat or cap with a wide brim whenever you spend time outdoors. Also, certain contact lenses can provide additional UV protection.
To provide adequate protection for your eyes, sunglasses should:
The lenses in sunglasses should be made from polycarbonate or Trivex® material if you participate in potentially eye-hazardous work or sports. These lenses provide the most impact resistance.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors in bright sunlight, wrap around frames can provide additional protection from the harmful solar radiation.
Don’t forget protection for children and teenagers. They typically spend more time in the sun than adults.
Be sure to see your doctor of optometry at least every two years [recommended schedule of examinations] for a comprehensive eye examination. It is a good way to monitor your eye health, maintain good vision and keep track of your solar radiation protection needs as well as new advances in eye protection.
UV Radiation Checklist
If you can answer “yes” to one or more of the following questions, you could be at higher risk for harm to the eyes from UV radiation:
Although you should wear sunglasses all year long while outdoors, the bright days of summer usually have most of us running to the eye doctor or retail center to purchase a new pair of shades. However, with all of the sunglass choices available today, choosing a pair can be a difficult decision.
It's hard enough to choose from the many frame style options, but you're also faced with picking out lenses. Grey lenses darken everything. Brown lenses allow more clarity. For golf and tennis, bright colors are more distinctive and “pop”, with brown lenses. Polarized provide the same protection. Do you know the advantages and disadvantages of polarized lenses?
What are tinted lenses?
Tinted lenses come in many styles, shades, and colors. The lightness and darkness of lenses may vary. Protection from the sun is not as great as with Polarized lenses.
What are polarized lenses?
Sunlight can be absorbed or reflected in several different directions. Sunlight that is bouncing off horizontal surfaces such as water, land or the hood of a car is usually reflected back in a similar horizontal direction. This reflection produces an agitating source of glare that cannot only create visual discomfort but can also cause a potentially blinding glare. Glare has the potential to create a very dangerous situation, especially while driving. Polarized lenses contain a laminated filter that allows only vertically oriented light to pass through. This blocks the horizontally oriented light so glare is almost eliminated.
The most common colors of polarized lenses are gray and brown. However, depending on the manufacturer, many other colors may be available.
What are some advantages of polarized lenses?
A high quality pair of sunglasses will usually include polarized lenses. A polarized lens offers the following advantages over non-polarized lenses:
Do you need polarized lenses?
Originally, polarized lenses were mainly worn by boaters and fishermen. Because a polarized lens reduces glare, it makes it much easier to see deeper into the water for viewing fish and other obstacles
Costa Polarized 580 Lenses – 580 Plastic lenses block yellow light at 580nm for enhanced color and blue light at 400nm to reduce haze and blur.
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