How to Protect Your Eyes Against UV Exposure

Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can have detrimental effects on your vision and eye health. In the short term, UV rays can cause photokeratitis (sunburn of the eye) resulting in red eyes, sensitivity, and excessive tearing. Over time, continuous exposure can increase your risk of developing serious eye conditions including cataracts, macular degeneration, and eye cancer. Continue reading for tips on how you can avoid these common sun-related eye injuries.

woman wearing sunglasses

1. Select the Correct Sunglasses

Wearing a quality pair of sunglasses year-round is your best defense against sun-related eye damage. When selecting your sunglasses, you should be looking for more than a pair that just fits your style. Ensure your lenses block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays, and screen out 75-90% of visible light for maximum sun protection. You can learn how to select your perfect pair of sunglasses here.


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UV Protection

2. Equip Your Everyday Lenses with UV Protection

With ZEISS UVProtect technology you can get full UV protection in clear, everyday lens options. This is a great way to ensure your eyes are always covered even if you forget your sunglasses.

woman wearing a sun hat

3. Wear a Hat

Wearing a wide brimmed hat in addition to sunglasses, is an excellent way to get added UV protection of your face, eyes, neck, and ears. Hats constructed of dark colored, tightly woven fabric are best for shielding damaging UV rays.

midday sun

4. Avoid Time in the Midday Sun

The sun is the strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to reduce your sun exposure as much as possible during these times. If you must be outside, be sure to wear appropriate clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen to minimize damage to your eyes.

midday sun

5. Take Extra Care Near Sand, Water, Ice, and Snow

Even when you are in the shade, you can still get indirect UV exposure from reflective surfaces such as sand, water, ice, and snow. When in direct sunlight, these surfaces can amplify the amount of UV rays you are exposed to, putting you at greater risk for sun-related injuries.

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6. Consider Your Location

The intensity of UV rays can fluctuate based on your location. As you go closer to the equator or rise altitude the level of UV radiation increases. Many weather services provide a UV Index that you can use to monitor the strength of UV radiation for a particular place and time.

tanning bed

7. Be Mindful of Indoor UV Sources

There are many indoor sources of UV radiation including tanning beds, welding equipment, plasma torches, and lasers that pose the same risk to your eyes as outdoor UV light. When you can, try to limit your exposure to these sources or wear appropriate safety gear to protect your eyes.

Practicing habits such as wearing safety gear, monitoring UV conditions, and limiting your sun exposure can help decrease your risk of developing UV-related eye injuries. For further information about UV-related risks and prevention consult your Shopko Optical Optometrist.

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