Risk Factors for Solar Eye Damage
While you should always protect your eyes from the sun, there are certain groups that face an increased risk of eye damage. Children under 10 are particularly vulnerable. Children’s eyes are less developed and therefore less capable of blocking UV rays. So while you protect your eyes from the sun, remember to do the same for your children and other young family members and friends. Retinal damage from the sun most often occurs over the course of a lifetime. Ensuring that you protect your eyes from the sun now may prevent eye damage in the future. Solar retinopathy, or retinal damage from solar radiation, can develop if you fail to protect your eyes from the sun.
Solar retinopathy can lead to long-term vision damage or vision loss. Failing to protect your eyes from the sun can also lead to:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
- Skin cancer around the eyes or on the eyelids
- Pterygia, or tissue growths on the eye
- Photokeratitis, or corneal sunburn
How to Protect Your Eyes from the Sun
Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat while outside. Experts estimate that sun damage can be up to three times greater during the summer. However, it is important to continue to protect your eyes from the sun throughout the year. Eye damage can still occur in winter and other seasons. Additionally, be sure to protect your eyes from the sun on overcast days. UV and HEV rays can pass through clouds and haze.
Protect your eyes from the sun by selecting sunglasses that:
- Block and absorb roughly 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays
- Block HEV light as well – this is not a must, but is ideal
- Are large enough to shield your eyes, eyelids, and surrounding facial areas
- Have a wraparound style for a close and comfortable fit
- Are polarized to eliminate glare, which can cause headaches and eye fatigue
- Have a seal of recommendation from The Skin Cancer Foundation
- Are durable and can resist impact
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