• Waterloo Eye Centre

Stay Safe this Summer - UV Rays and Your Eyes

Today is the Summer Solstice and officially the start of summer. Yay! While I was soaking up the sun at Crosby beach with Dad on Father's Day, he told me the last time he'd seen the beach so busy was the Summer of '76. I thought he was winding me up with the specific choice of year but according to the media, we really are set for the hottest June on record since 1976!

With lots of sun to enjoy, I'm sure we'll all be spending lots more time outdoors, and while we all know the risks of UV damage to our skin, I'm not sure quite so many are aware of the damage harmful UV rays can cause your eyes.

So, how does UV light affect our eyes?

The short term effects are a condition called photokeratitis, which is pretty much sunburn of the eyes! Ouch! Too much time in the sun without proper protection can cause this. And its painful!

The long term effects are possibly more concerning though, and whilst most UV-B rays are blocked from reaching the back of our eyes, harmful UV-A rays can reach the back of the eyes and cause severe sight loss.

The risk to a person of developing cataracts, a condition where the natural lens clouds, is increased with exposure to UV. This could result in needing surgery to remove the clouded lens. People who have had cataract surgery are also at risk of over exposure as the natural UV filters in the lens are removed.

Macular degeneration is caused by damage to the central retina over prolonged periods of time and is the leading cause of age related sight loss. Exposure to UV rays when we are out in the sun without protecting our eyes, is one of the biggest factors for increasing your risk of suffering from this condition.

Who is at risk?

Everyone is at risk of damage to their eye if they are exposed to UV radiation, including children! Being aware of the risks makes you more likely to protect your eyes, so just by reading this blog you're one step closer to healthier eyes. Let's tell you how you can achieve the best protection.

How can we stay protected?

  • The obvious one first; WEAR SUNGLASSES! But not only that, wear sunglasses from a trusted provider. All sunglasses we supply are guaranteed to come with the required UV protection. This is important! Sunglasses have become the ultimate fashion accessory, and while there are lots that look the part, not all are regulated and guarantee proper protection. Beware the fakes!

  • We've also seen an increase in the number of parents buying transitions lenses for their children. This is fantastic as they change colour when exposed to UV light and mean our little ones are protected whenever they are outdoors.

  • If you spend a lot of time outdoors, it would be good to consider a wrap around sunglass frame as these offer more protection.

  • Peaked hats and caps also block around 50% of the suns rays coming from above, again offering even more protection than sunglasses alone.

But, don't forget, UV radiation can come from all directions including below, especially when reflected from water and snow. That's why it's important to always wear sunglasses in these conditions even when a hat is worn.

  • If you read our last blog about the newest range of contact lenses, you'll have seen that even contact lens companies are introducing UV filters into some of their new lenses. If you're a contact lens wearer, find out if you are suitable for any of the lenses which offer this fantastic protection.

And don't forget, exposure to UV rays will age the skin around your eyes. So investing in those gorgeous Tom Ford sunglasses you're after works out cheaper than botox! ;)

Now then, who else is praying for a storm so we can all go back to sleeping at night? THEN I'll be happy to start (safely) enjoying the sun again!


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