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July is UV Safety Awareness Month.   A lot of emphasis is put on protecting our skin from exposure to prevent sunburn and skin cancer. While this is important, we also need to consider our vision.  Too much UV can cause serious harm to our eyes and vision.   As we are all still dealing with the lifestyle adjustments brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, many of us are spending more time outdoors which gives us more exposure to the sun and UV rays.

Overexposure to the Sun’s UV rays can cause significant eye issues.  These include:

  • Catarats
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Pingueculae
  • Pterygia
  • Phtokeatitis

How to Protect Our Eyes

  • Pay Attention to the Time of Day
    Here in the mid-Atlantic we should take extra  precautions when we are outdoors between 10:00am and 2:00pm.  UV exposure is greater when the sun is high in the sky.  By planning our exposure outside these hours we can reduce the risk of dangerous exposure to UV rays.
  • Medications Can  Increase Your Body’s Sensitivity
    Some medications, such as tetracycline, sulfa drugs, birth control pills, steroids, diuretics and many others can increase your body’s sensitivity to UV radiation.  If you are on medication, check the warning labels for UV sensitivity warnings.
  • Check the UV Daily Index
    The EPA issues a UV Alert when the level of solar UV radiation that day is expected to be unusually high.
  • Wear UV Protective Sunglasses
    Everyone, including children, should protect their eyes with UV protective sunglasses… even when in the shade or on overcast days.

Suggestions for Choosing Sunglasses

The American Optometric Association Suggests when choosing sunglasses.

Choose sunglasses that:

  • block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
  • screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light;
  • have lenses that are perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection; and
  • have lenses that are gray for proper color recognition.