It's safe to assume that almost everybody is exposed to UV rays on a regular basis. Even though this is the case, the potential risks related to many years of exposure to these harmful rays aren't really considered, and many barely take enough action to guard their eyes, even when they're expecting on being exposed to the sun for an extended period of time. Overexposure to UV is unsafe and cannot be reversed, and can also result in a number of severe, vision-stealing conditions in older age. This means that ongoing protection from UV rays is extremely important.
There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB, both of which are unsafe. Despite the fact that only small measures of UVA and UVB light enter the inner eye, the ocular tissue is incredibly receptive to the dangerous effects of their rays. Small amounts of this kind of exposure can cause sunburn of the eye, also known as photokeratitis. When UVB rays enter the cornea, the outer cells are severely damaged, and this can cause pain, blurred vision or in serious cases, temporary blindness. UVA rays can actually penetrate much deeper into the eye, which causes damage to the retina. Over a number of years, being exposed to UV rays may cause substantial damage to the eyes. Out of the 20 million people suffering from cataracts, an estimated 20 percent of cases are due to long-term UV exposure.
A really great way to guard your eyes from UV rays is with quality eyewear. Ensure that your sunglasses or prescription eyewear block both UVA and UVB rays completely. An inadequate pair of sunglasses can sometimes be worse than using no sunglasses at all. Consider this: when sunglasses offer no UV protection, you are actually getting more UV rays. Sunglasses that are inadequate tend to block some of the light, causing the iris to open and let even more light in. And this means that even more UV will reach your retina. Always be sure that your sunglasses provide enough UV protection.
Long-term exposure to UV rays can also result in an abnormal tissue growth on the eye, known as pterygium. This is a slim, wedge-shaped tissue growth with blood vessels that spread over the white part on the surface of the eye. In addition to being aesthetically unappealing, a pterygium can irritate the eye, and can even alter the curve of the eyeball, which leads to astigmatism. If the pterygium begins to grow over the cornea, it can blur or obstruct vision and may require surgery. Because pterygia are caused by long-term UV exposure, it is completely avoidable.
Talk to your optometrist about all the different UV protection choices, including fixed tint sunglasses, adaptive lenses and polarized lenses.