With the sun shining and the weather so fabulous, the great outdoors is inviting us to enjoy nature. We all know however that too much of a good thing can be bad and this is also true when it comes to the sun. So we go out with our sun hats and sunscreens. After all, we are worried about how the sun can cause skin cancer, especially the deadly melanoma.
But do not forget. Our eyes also need protection from the sun because its UV rays can cause eye damage that may be immediate but also in the long-term.
Here are some examples of how the sun can damage our eyes:
Sunburns to the eyes. Do you know, for example, that you can also suffer from sunburns to the eye? According to Prevent Blindness America, prolonged exposure to the sun can cause photokeratitis, a painful condition [that] may result in temporary loss of vision for 1 to 2 days. Pterygium. In addition, the presence of pterygium, a growth of tissue that forms on the white of the eye, is in direct correlation to the amount of UV exposure that the person has been subjected to. Without treatment, this condition may require surgical treatment.
Cataracts and macular degeneration. Long-term damage may not be obvious until years later. Studies have shown that UV damage to the eyes accumulates and lead to cataracts and macular degeneration.
Basal cell carcinoma. The skin around the eyes and the eyes can also be damaged by UV rays to cause a type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma. It may develop on the lower lid, in the corners of the eye and under eyebrows.
So how do we protect our eyes from the sun?
It is actually easy and cheap. According to Prevent Blindness America:
- Use sunglasses that block 100% of UV A and UB B radiation from the sun.
- A brimmed hat or cap can prevent the sun from directly hitting our eyes.
- A wrap around sunglasses are highly recommended since they not only protect the eyes but all the skin around the eyes.
- Children should also wear sunglasses that that fit properly and block UV but these should be made from unbreakable polycarbonate to avoid injuries.
- Do not let children wear “toy sunglasses” that do not have UV protection because sunglasses without UV protection may shade the eyes but actually cause the pupils to dilate, allowing in even more harmful rays.