😎 It's important to protect your eyes from the sun

😎 UV-A and UV-B rays can do some serious and permanent damage to the eyes

😎 Protection is actually simple

While enjoying a day at the beach, the pool, or anywhere outdoors this summer, be sure you are properly protecting your eyes from UV rays.

What are the harmful rays?

There are three types of UV rays: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C.

UV-C rays have the shortest wavelength and don’t pass through the ozone layer. Therefore, they don’t come into contact with your eyes.

“UV-A and UV-B rays do wreak havoc on your eyes. These rays actually can contribute to eye conditions. These are the ones you need to protect yourself from,” said Dr. Joseph Calderone of Better Vision New Jersey in Cranford.

UV-A penetrates the cornea so it can get to the lens and contribute to cataract development. The rays can also get through the lens and into the retina where they can play a role in macular degeneration, Calderone said.

UV-B rays are partially filtered by the Earth’s ozone layer. Those rays that do make it to Earth don’t likely contribute to cataracts or macular issues. But they are absorbed by the cornea and these are the rays that can cause sunburn and corneal injury, Calderone added.


How can you protect your eyes from damaging UV rays?

It is vital to protect the eyes from long-term damage and acute damage from UV rays.

The seasonal form of UV damage is what happens when you spend the day at the beach in bright sunlight which is not only coming out of the sky, is also reflecting off the water and the bright sand. So, there is nowhere to hide, he said.

Therefore, protective gear is necessary to reduce excessive sun exposure that can lead to permanent damage.

“Sunglasses are going to protect against the long-term consequences like cataract development, especially important in the young population since the majority of our lifetime exposure to UV light happens before the age of 18,” Calderone said.

NJ beach, sunbathing
Jersey shore locals are glad to have their beach back. (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)

What kind of sunglasses are best?

Look for sunglasses that protect 100% of all UV light which is most of them, he said. Check anyway. The cheap sunglasses and the ones that are given out for free at parties, social functions, and festivals typically do not protect against UV light.

Sunglasses should have grey or dark lenses which will block out at least 75% of visible light.

To further protect your eyes, Calderone suggested wearing a broad-brimmed hat, which will block at least half of the UV rays. The hat will also limit the amount of rays that hit the eyes from above. But brimmed hats alone don’t offer much assistance with reflected rays on surfaces. Wearing sunglasses is the most important thing you can do, he said.

“It is especially important for parents to make sure their children put on their sunblock to protect their skin and wear sunglasses and a large-brimmed hat to protect their eyes. Pay attention to the published UV indices on both sunny and cloudy eyes, and consider indoor activities for a couple of hours starting at lunchtime during the peak sunlight hours of the day,” Calderone said.

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