Prevent Blindness, America's leading eye health and safety nonprofit organization, has named May as UV Awareness month. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 20 percent of cataracts are the result of overexposure to UV radiation.

Overexposure to UV rays can occur from spending too much time in the sun, and even from the glare of the snow. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “snow blindness,” a form of photokeratitis, can develop after prolonged exposure to UV reflections off of snow, ice, sand or water.

There are a number of serious health issues directly related to sun exposure including:

  • Pinguecula—a protein and fat deposit in the white part of the eye (sclera). It can cause irritation and, in rare cases, affect how tears cover the eye.

  • Pterygium (Surfer’s Eye)—a growth that extends from the sclera to the clear tissue called the cornea, which covers the iris and pupil.

  • Cataract—a cloudy area in the eye’s lens. Prolonged exposure to UV rays modifies lens proteins, leading to cataract formation and worsening eyesight.

  • Cancers of the eyelid—includes basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Eyecare providers who are interested in getting copies of the latest fact sheets and social media graphics can visit the Prevent Blindness website for helpful downloads.

To help spread the word about the dangerous effects of UV light and about the importance of protecting patient’s eyes, the eyecare community is taking to social media with the hashtag #uvawarenessmonth.

Here are some of the creative ways eyecare professionals are sharing information and resources for their patients on social media.

Optelecus in Clearwater, Florida is sharing the latest in UV protection technology with products like the ImproVision PROSHIELD. Image via optelecus on Instagram

Ascent Eyecare in Franklin, Tennessee is reminding parents of the importance of keeping kid’s eyes protected from the sun. Children should start wearing glasses as babies, and remember to wear long sleeve shirts and sunscreen when outdoors. Image via ascenteyecare on Instagram

Prevent Blindness Texas in Houston, Texas is connecting patients to their website to help ensure they have all the facts about eye protection. Image via preventblindnesstexas on Instagram

Specialty Eye in Seattle, Washington has a collection of helpful images and tips for patient’s on how to keep their eyes safe and information on the risks and symptoms of sun damage. Image via specialtyeye on Instagram

Nelly, the “spokesdog” at Eye Centre GBV in Lewisburg, West Virginia, wants everyone to know it is UV Awareness Month. Image via eyecentregbv on Instagram

McCormick Vision Source in Austin, Texas has a reminder for patients that you should always protect your eyes from sun damage. Image via mcormickvisionsource on Instagram

Educating parents is also a priority for Dzeyemd in Santa Barbara, California, who are reminding people that kids are at a high risk of sun damage to their vision due to their large pupils and clear natural lenses. Image via dzeyemd on Instagram

Brampton Vision Centre in Brampton, Canada, wants adults to know that they are also susceptible to eye damage from the sun’s UV rays. UV rays can cause premature cataracts, retinal damage and growths over the white part of your eye. Image via bramptonvisioncentre on Instagram