It's a fact that basically everybody is exposed to UV rays. Even though this is the case, the potential risks related to years of exposure to these harsh rays aren't really thought about, and the majority of people barely take enough action to shield their eyes, even if they're planning to be outside for long periods of time. UV overexposure is unsafe and irreversible, and may lead to a number of severe, sight-damaging diseases in older age. This means that ongoing protection from UV rays is equally important for everybody.
There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B, and both are harmful. Despite the fact that only tiny amounts of UVA and UVB light hit the inner eye, the eye tissue is incredibly susceptible to the damaging effects of their rays. Small amounts of this kind of exposure can easily lead to sunburnt eyes, also known as photokeratitis. When UVB rays enter the cornea, the outer cells are destroyed, and this can lead to blurred vision, pain or even temporary blindness. UVA rays can enter the eye more deeply, causing harm to the retina.
One of the best ways to guard your eyes from UV rays is through the use of good sunglasses. Check that your sunglasses or regular eyewear block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. An unsatisfactory pair of sunglasses can be worse than using no sunglasses at all. Think about it this way: if sunglasses offer no UV protection, it means you're actually increasing your exposure to UV rays. The inadequate sunglasses will block some of the light, forcing the iris to open and let even more light in. This means that even more UV will reach the retina. Always check to make sure your sunglasses provide enough protection against UV.
Going out in a large sunhat or baseball cap will also block about fifty percent of UV rays. These hats can also reduce UV rays that reach your eyes from above or around glasses.
Long-term exposure to UV rays can also lead to an abnormal tissue growth on the eye, known as pterygium. This is a thin, wedge-shaped tissue growth with blood vessels that grow over the white part of the eye's surface. In addition to being visually unappealing, a pterygium can be uncomfortable, and can even alter the contour of the eyeball, causing astigmatism. If the pterygium starts to grow over the cornea, it can damage vision and may require surgery. Because pterygia are caused by extended UV exposure and windy conditions, it's completely avoidable.
Speak to your eye care professional about all of your UV protection options, including fixed tint sunglasses, adaptive lenses and polarized lenses.