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This May is UV Awareness Month


As a result of ongoing efforts to increase knowledge of the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) light to your skin, (including sunburn and skin cancer), most are aware of the necessity of using sunblock and avoiding direct contact with the sun particularly during the blazing summer months. What is less known is that UV and other harmful types of radiation from the sun also pose a threat to your eyes.

If you are thinking of going outside without sunglasses, think again. Continual absorption of the sun's ultraviolet light has been seen to be a cause of eye damage.

UV Eye Damage

Exposure to large quantities of ultraviolet radiation over a short interval can result in a ''sunburn of the eye'', which results in pain, blurry vision or even temporary blindness. Long-term ultraviolet exposure can result in more serious eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can cause vision loss. Just like the real thing, tanning beds present a serious threat of overexposure to UV.

How to Choose Protective Sunglasses

For effective ultraviolet defense, you should only purchase sunglasses that keep out 100 percent of UV radiation. Look for shades that specify they are ''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).

You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Wraparound sunglasses can block dangerous UV rays from coming in through the sides and back of the frame.

Individuals whose work or recreation involves lengthy exposure to sunlight are at the most risk for UV eye damage. UV can be reflected from surfaces such as snow, water, and white sand and presents the most threat 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 consult with an optometrist and to be aware of the risks for UV exposure. Simply wearing your sunglasses can make a world of difference for your precious eyesight. 

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