How Does the Sun Affect the Eyes?

Jul 1, 2024 | Eye Health Info

As the summer sun shines brightly, it’s crucial to remember that protecting your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is just as important as shielding your skin.  

At Ideal EyeCare, our team, led by Dr. Matthew Taylor, is dedicated to helping our patients in Omaha, NE, and Council Bluffs, IA, maintain optimal eye health. Learn more about how the sun affects the eyes and how to protect your eyes from the sun in this blog.  

Understanding UV radiation and its impact on eye health 

UV radiation from the sun is composed of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. While UVC rays are mostly absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, UVA and UVB rays can penetrate the eyes and skin and cause significant damage. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can lead to various eye conditions, including: 

  • Cataracts: A clouding of the eye’s natural lens, leading to decreased vision. 
  • Macular degeneration: A deterioration of the central part of the retina, or the macula, which is crucial for sharp central vision. 
  • Pterygium: A growth of pink, fleshy tissue on the white of the eye, which can affect vision if it extends over the cornea. 
  • Photokeratitis: Essentially sunburn of the eye, causing pain, redness, and temporary vision loss. 

How to protect your eyes from the sun 

Here is a list of simple tips to safeguard your eyes from the sun:  

  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses: Not all sunglasses are created equal. Make sure to choose sunglasses that block 100% UVA and UVB rays. Look for labels that specify “UV400” or “100% UV protection.” Wraparound styles offer additional protection by preventing UV rays from entering from the sides. 
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat: Wearing a hat with a brim at least 3 inches wide can block up to 50% UV rays, providing extra protection for your eyes and face. 
  • Get in the shade! Whenever possible, stay in the shade, especially during peak UV radiation hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
  • Be cautious on cloudy days: UV rays can penetrate clouds, so it’s important to wear sunglasses and take protective measures even on overcast days. 
  • Kids need sunglasses, too! Children’s eyes are more sensitive to UV radiation. Ensure they wear sunglasses and hats when outdoors. 

The role of regular eye exams 

Regular eye exams are essential for maintaining eye health and detecting early signs of UV-related damage. At Ideal EyeCare, Dr. Taylor and our experienced team provide comprehensive eye exams in Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa to monitor and protect your vision. We use state-of-the-art technology to assess your overall eye health and recommend the best UV protection strategies tailored to your needs. Additionally, our stylish selection of sunglasses in our optical offers the necessary UV protection without compromising on fashion. 

Protecting your eyes from UV radiation is crucial for long-term eye health. By wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, using wide-brimmed hats, seeking shade, and scheduling regular eye exams, you can significantly reduce the risk of UV-related eye conditions. Schedule an appointment today and let us support you in maintaining healthy vision and enjoying the sunshine safely.