5 Tips to Protect Your Eyes From Dangerous UV Rays (And the Effects If You Don’t)

May 16, 2023


While the negative effects the sun’s UV rays can have on the skin are well known, the effects on the eyes can be just as damaging. Exposure to UV rays can lead to many health problems such as cataracts, damage to the retina, growths on the eye such as pterygiums, sunburn on the eye, dark spots, and eye cancer. Luckily, there are simple and effective ways you can protect your eyes from UV rays. Let’s look at a few tips on how you can keep your eyes safe.

1.    Wear Sunglasses Year-round

While you may think of sunglasses as something you wear during the summer, it’s important to wear them year-round. Whether it’s summer or winter, the UV rays from the sun can still damage your eyes.

But not all sunglasses are created equal. You’ll want to find sunglasses that meet fit well, block 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays, and screen out at least 75-90% of visible light. And when looking for sunglasses, don’t go straight for the cheapest option. Spending a little bit more can give you better quality.

You may also want different sunglasses for different activities. Whether you want multiple styles for different outfits or prescription vs. non-prescription for different moments in life, having multiple pairs ensures your eyes are always protected from UV rays.

2.    Wear A Hat in the Sun

On top of having a proper pair of sunglasses, wearing a hat to protect your eyes from the sun is also vital. Choose a hat with a broad rim in a dark color that shades your eyes from both the front and the sides. And to get the most protection for your eyes, wearing a hat and sunglasses is recommended.

Beyond protecting your eyes, a good hat can also protect the skin on your face and neck from the sun as well.

A proper hat can also reduce glare and prevent you from squinting when you’re spending time outside.

3.    Don’t Stare at the Sun

It’s not just a myth that staring at the sun can damage your eyes; it’s true. Staring at the sun can lead to dark spots in your vision. It can also burn the front of the eye and damage your retina which can significantly affect your vision and is not reversible.

Additionally, with long-term exposure to UV rays, you are more at risk for macular degeneration which can blur your vision.

To limit your exposure to UV rays, check your local weather report for the daily UV index and the intensity of the UV rays each day.

4.    Avoid Tanning Beds

The risk of tanning beds on the skin is well-known, but they can affect your eyes as well. The UV rays from tanning beds pose a greater risk to your eyes than the sun does when you’re outside. The risk can be up to 100 times greater.

And closing your eyes while under the bed’s lights is not enough. The skin on the eyelids is very thin and the UV rays can damage the eyelids and make it through to the eye.

The light from the tanning bed can actually burn the eyes but you may not feel the burn until later. It may take 6-12 hours to feel the burn after exposure.

5.    Schedule a Regular Eye Exam

Catching eye damage from UV rays early ensures you get the treatment you need before it becomes worse. That’s why a regular eye exam is so important.

During an eye exam, your ophthalmologist can spot any damage, treat issues as they come, and give you information on how you can protect your eyes from further damage from UV rays.

On top of that, your doctor can catch any other eye issues —from UV rays or not— so they can be treated right away.

Schedule An Appointment

If you’re struggling with the effects of UV rays or dealing with other eye issues, schedule an appointment with Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology today. Our experienced staff of doctors can help you with a diagnosis, treatment, and tips to keep your eyes in the best health possible. Call our Falls Church, VA office at 703-912-0504 or use our online form to request an appointment.

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