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UV Safety Month

Summer time means more time outside which means more exposure to harmful UV rays. Although we protect our skin with long sleeves and sunscreen, many forget about their eyes. July is UV Safety Month, so in this blog post, we will be discussing what UV rays are, how they impact eye health, and best practices you can implement to protect your vision.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. Natural UVC rays from the sun never reach earth, but they can come from man-made sources like welding torches and UV bacteria-killing sanitizing bulbs. UVA and UVB rays, however, can penetrate skin cells causing them to age faster, resulting in burns and cancer. When it comes to your vision, these rays can cause sunburned eyes and increased risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, growths, and eye-related cancer.

Your risk of developing these complications caused by UV rays is highest during spring and summer, particularly towards the middle of the day when the UV index is above 3. Although a location’s distance from the equator, altitude, clouds, and surface reflections can also determine where and when the sun is strongest. Ultimately, UV rays are a risk year round – even in winter.

Just like you wear sunscreen to protect your skin, your eyes require protection from the sun. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind this summer to help you and your family protect your vision.

  1. Stay inside or in the shade. This is simple, but it’s important to limit your time in the sun, especially during the middle of the day when UV rays are the strongest.
  2. Wear sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Brands like Maui Jim offer sunglasses that protect your eyes from damage and long-term health risks. Sunglasses that do not provide UV protection can actually cause more damage because they shade the eye, allowing for more UV rays to hit the pupil.
  3. Wear a hat. Hats shield the sun from your face and when worn with sunglasses, they help to protect the space between your sunglasses and skin.
  4. Choose a wraparound option. If you are regularly outdoors for work, sports, or recreational activities like boating, fishing, etc. consider investing in a pair of wraparound sunglasses, which hug the contours of your face, preventing the sun’s rays from creeping in around the edges.
  5. Know that contact lenses do not protect against UV rays. As cool as that would be, it’s just not the case. You need to wear sunglasses, even if you wear contacts.
  6. Don’t be fooled by clouds or cold weather. If it’s daytime, the sun’s UV rays penetrate through clouds. In the winter, the sun’s rays are still reaching you, even though they might not feel warm. Protect your eyes by always wearing sunglasses – even during overcast or cold days.
  7. Kids aren’t exempt from these rules. Healthy vision starts in childhood. You can protect your child’s vision by helping them to follow all the parameters we’ve outlined above.

If you don’t already have a pair of reliable, UV blocking sunglasses, now is the time to get some! Please feel free to stop in our office to try some on – we’d love to help you choose a stylish pair that will also protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun. As always, if you have questions about this topic, don’t hesitate to contact us.