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This Month is Ultraviolet Awareness Month


Thanks to measures to increase knowledge of the threats of Ultraviolet (UV) light to your skin, (particularly sunburn and skin cancer), most are familiar with the necessity of applying sunblock and using other protective measures particularly during the blazing summer months. But how many are aware that UV and other harmful types of radiation from the sun are also a threat to your eyes?

If you often leave the house without sunglasses, reconsider. Extended exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation has been seen to be a cause of damage to the eye.

Risks of UV Eye Exposure

Excessive short term exposure to UV is known to lead to photokeratitis meaning a ''sunburn of the eye'', which results in pain, blurry vision or even temporary vision loss. Long-term UV exposure can result in more threatening eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, which can cause loss of sight. Individuals that come into frequent contact with welding machines, tanning beds and lasers are also at increased risk of exposure to UV radiation.

Selecting UV Protective Sunglasses

For effective UV protection, sunglasses should block 100 percent of ultraviolet radiation. Stick with shades labeled ''UV 400'', which indicates that they block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers (which includes both UVA and UVB rays, both known to enter the atmosphere).

The size of your sunglasses is also important. Wraparound sunglasses can block harmful UV rays from entering from the sides and back of the frame.

Those whose work or recreation involves lengthy exposure to light from the sun are at the highest risk for UV eye damage. Ultraviolet radiation can be reflected from bright surfaces such as snow, water, and white sand and poses the most risk during the midday hours and during the summer months. UV radiation levels increase as you get closer to the equator and at high altitudes. Every individual should speak to an eye doctor and to be aware of the risks for UV exposure. The simple act of wearing your sunglasses can make a world of difference for your precious eyesight.