July is National Ultraviolet Safety month. Ultraviolet rays can cause eye damage, including macular degeneration and cataracts, which are two main causes of vision loss among the elderly. At Nevada Eye Physicians, our vision professionals provide eye exams at all of our seven locations throughout Nevada to check our patients’ eye health and to determine if they have existing eye damage from UV light. Men and women who are more prone to sunburns, have light-colored hair, fair skin, or who have freckles are all more susceptible to this UV damage. Call one of our convenient NV locations, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Mesquite, and Pahrump, to schedule an appointment.
What is UV light?
Ultraviolet rays aren’t part of visible light as they are higher in energy. This is what makes them so harmful. There are three categories of UV radiation:
- UVC: This is the highest energy UV rays that are the most harmful to the eyes and skin.
- UVB: These are slightly lower energy than UVC rays, but in low doses, they can still be damaging. Overexposure to UVB radiation can lead to photokeratitis or snow blindness.
- UVA: UVA rays are closer to visible light rays and can pass through the cornea and reach the lens and retina easily. Overexposure to these rays has been linked to the development of cataracts and can play a role in the development of macular degeneration.
UV risk factors
Your level of UV exposure is affected by a number of factors, including:
- Medications: If you’re on certain medications, including diuretics, tranquilizers, birth control pills, or tetracyclines, you could be more sensitive to UV radiation.
- Geographic location: UV exposure is greater closer to the earth’s equator.
- Altitude: The risk of UV exposure is increased at higher altitudes.
- Time of day: UV exposure is greater when the sun is higher, typically from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
When you have an increased risk of UV light exposure and damage, you should be especially careful when you’re in the sun, any day of the year.
How to protect your eyes from UV light exposure
To protect your eyes from harmful radiation, you should follow these tips:
- Wear sunglasses: Wear sunglasses that block 99 – 100% UVA and UVB radiation. They should also screen out about 75 – 90% of all visible light. Your eyes need protection, even when it’s cloudy, since UV rays can penetrate clouds. Wear high-quality sunglasses. Remember to wear them even when you’re in the shade and throughout winter as the snow can reflect UV rays that can double your exposure to UV radiation. If you work outside, your sunglasses lenses should be made from polycarbonate and wrap around your face to protect damage at the sides of your eyes.
- Choose UV-blocking contacts: Contacts that protect against UV rays offer high-quality protection. Our vision professionals can inform you of the best UV-blocking contact lens options available at Nevada Eye Physicians.
- Have regular eye exams: These comprehensive eye exams allow us to track any eye damage you have, whether from UV light or anything else.
What eye problems can develop because of too much UV light exposure?
Too much UV light exposure can lead to an increased risk for developing eye cancer, cataracts, growths on the eye, and photokeratitis. Each time you are in the sun without protection, you can add damage. Babies and children also need hats and sunglasses to protect their eyes because as much as 80% of all UV exposure occurs before the age of 18. Growths on the eyes can appear as early as the teenage years. Those exposed to strong snow or ice reflection increase their risk of developing photokeratitis, which causes painful symptoms.
Learn more about UV light protection during an eye exam
At Nevada Eye Physicians, we believe in prevention. Our vision professionals can evaluate your eyes and diagnose any eye issue. Then, we can discuss treatment options that help relieve or resolve the problem. We offer eye exams at all seven of our Nevada locations, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Mesquite, and Pahrump. To schedule an appointment, call our professional team today.