Protect Your Eyes From UV Rays

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As cities around the world reopen and June ushers in the summer season, it’s important for us to protect our eyes from the sun’s UV rays. Although the sun emits harmful rays 365 days of the year, it is strongest during the spring and summer months. So longer days coupled with more time spent outdoors can make our eyes susceptible to significant problems, including cataracts, macular degeneration, and photokeratitis, a condition that’s similar to a sunburn, except it affects the corneas of the eye.

Sunlight—the most common form of UV radiation—emits three kinds of ultraviolet radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC. While UVC doesn’t reach the Earth’s surface because it’s filtered by the planet’s ozone layer, UVA and and some UVB rays are transmitted through the atmosphere and are able to damage skin and eyes, according to the World Health Organization.

However, many Americans aren’t wearing sunglasses, which is a common way to protect eyes from UV rays. A VisionWatch survey conducted by The Vision Council found that 27 percent of American adults don’t typically wear sunglasses when they are outside.The survey also found that they experience symptoms—like irritation in the eye (15.5 percent), trouble seeing (13.5 percent), wrinkles around the eye (8.3 percent), red or swollen eyes (5.9 percent), sunburn on the eyelids (3.7 percent), sunburn of the eye (2.5 percent) and cancer on or around the eye (.6 percent)—from prolonged UV exposure.

The most common time American adults report spending time outdoors is from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. (39.8 percent), and the number one thing that concerns them most about UV eye exposure is vision loss (28.2 percent).

Wearing hats and/or sunglasses that block 99 percent to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays and screen out 75 percent to 90 percent of visible light are a few ways people can protect themselves from sun rays.