We are all aware what the SPF rating means for our skin, but what about our eyes?
Unfortunately, many of us are unaware of the dangers UV light can pose, so we often expose our eyes to UV rays without any protection at all. In extreme cases, too much exposure to UV light raises your risk of eye diseases. Given this, it's important to start wearing proper eye protection at an early age to shield your eyes from years of ultraviolet exposure, but exactly which levels of UV should we be worried about, and how can we adequately protect our eyes against it?
What is UV light?
We experience UV light primarily from the sun. The sun emits a range of wavelengths known as the 'electromagnetic spectrum', made up of various regions, with some of the most common known as radio waves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet (UV) and X-rays.
UV can be split into 3 categories: UVA, UVB and UVC.
1. UVA falls in the range of 316 nm to 380 nm and causes damage deeper in the eye. The Macula is a central part of the retina at the back of the eye and is responsible for our superfine vision. UVA can cause changes to the Macula and cause it to degenerate.
2. UVB is in the range of 280 nm to 315 nm and causes damage to biological ocular tissue. UVB causes the proteins in the eye's crystalline lens to degenerate, making the lens cloudy, causing cataracts, which then disrupts the vision. Cataract surgery would be the only option to replace the lens within the eye with a new artificial lens. 10% of cataracts are caused by UV damage.
3. UVC is in the range of 100 nm to 280 nm and is filtered by the ozone layer. As the ozone layer decreases, UVB radiation may increase.
What should we look for when looking at products that protect our eyes against UV?
When looking at UV protection for our eyes, we should always look for products with 100% UV protection to protect our eyes up to 380 nm.
In terms of eyewear, not all sunglasses provide adequate UV protection so when purchasing sunglasses, ensure they say that they provide 100% UV protection. Also look out for contact lenses that are formulated with UV protection, such as WALDO’S Hydra Boost and Vitamin Daily Lenses.
In summary, as much as we love those long warm sunny summer days, we need to ensure that we are practicing safe sun and looking out for our eyes too.
It's not all bad!
Healthy exposure to sunlight can have positive effects, too. Natural sunlight has positive effects on sleeping patterns and energy levels. Just don’t forget your UV-protective contact lenses, or sunglasses.