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Five Tips to Protect Your Eyes from the Sun

Mom and child with sunglassesWatching a beautiful sunrise or sunset can make us feel good and provide some essential vitamin d, but how do you protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, eye doctors warn that continuous exposure to UV light can increase the risks of eye diseases, such as cataracts, growths on the eye and cancer. In colder climates, snow reflection exposure can also lead to eye damage, known as “snow blindness.”

Who’s affected?

Those individuals most at risk for growths on the eye include: surfers, skiers, fishermen, farmers, lifeguards, those who work outdoors, or anyone who spends long hours in the mid-day sun or in UV-intense conditions near rivers, oceans and mountains. Although cataract and cancers of the eye can take long periods to develop, each time a person is out in the sun without protection, they could be adding damage that increases their risk for these serious conditions.

Others who are at increased risk include people who have lighter eyes (blue, green, hazel), babies and children, people who have had cataract surgery, and those who take photosensitizing drugs that can increase risk of UV sensitivity. These can include certain antibiotics, birth control and estrogen pills, anti-malarial drugs, and psoriasis medications. Ask your doctor about possible side effects of any medicine you take.

To help you keep seeing clearly and maintain vision health, here are five important tips to protect your eyes from the sun all year long:

  1. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats whenever you’re outside.
  2. Clouds can be deceiving – the sun’s rays can pass through clouds and haze.
  3. Never look directly at the sun. It can lead to solar retinopathy, which is damage to the retina by solar radiation.
  4. Protect all ages. Babies, kids, teens, adults and older family members need to wear hats and UV-blocking sunglasses when they are outdoors.
  5. Sunglasses should be labeled “100% UV Protection” and block both UV-A and UV-B rays. Also, choose the style that wraps around to protect the sides of your eyes from ultraviolet rays.

So next time you’re heading outside on a bright and sunny day or a cloudy one, grab your shades, hat and sunscreen, and make sure your loved ones do, too.  

If you notice anything unusual with your vision or on your eye, talk to your doctor. For assistance finding a doctor, ophthalmologist or other specialist, complete the form on the page.


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