During the scorching summers, it is not only about protecting the skin from harmful UV radiation; the damage caused by the sun’s toxic rays is far-reaching. It is not wrong to assume that the skin receives the most harm from exposure to these ultraviolet rays, but the impact on the eyes is lesser known. Owing to this lack of awareness, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has labeled July as the ‘UV Safety Awareness Month.’
UV Rays and Eyes
Here are a few things you need to know regarding the detrimental effects of UV rays on your eyes and vision. UV-A can impact central vision by damaging the macula, while UV-B is absorbed by the cornea and lens, so UV-B is more likely to impair the eyes, causing long-term damage.
This occurs when the macula, which is a central portion of the retina, starts to deteriorate. Macular degeneration is more likely in people over the age of 60, but constant exposure to UV-A can speed up the process, leading to vision loss.
Pterygium begins to appear on the white of the human eye and can spread all the way to the cornea. It is a pinkish tissue growth which starts small but can grow up to cover the entire pupil. This is a common eye phenomenon in people who work long hours in the sun and wind. Pterygium is caused by exposure to the sun and dust. It may permanently block vision, leading to vision loss.
The skin is prone to damage by UV rays. However, skin cancer is more likely around the eyelids if exposure to UV rays is protracted. Skin cancer of the eyelid includes basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Clouding of the lens is usually caused by UV-B, which is eventually translated into a loss of vision. Cataracts may be caused on either one eye or both eyes, and possible symptoms comprise of faded colors, blurred vision, and halos around light.
Another name for corneal sunburn is ‘photo-keratitis’ and is usually caused by prolonged exposure to the UV-B rays. This happens when the cornea is damaged owing to UV radiation. Possible symptoms comprise of severe eye pain, light sensitivity, watery eyes and blurred vision.
Now that you have understood the possible effects of UV rays on the eyes and vision, let’s talk about the UV Safety Awareness Month and what it aims to achieve.
What Does This Month Teach Us About UV Rays?
The UV Safety Awareness Month this year aims to teach the harmful impact of UV on the skin and eyes and how to prevent such damage.
Its summers, and you cannot do without beach strolls, playing in the sand, making sand castles, surfing, playing outdoors with friends and arranging outdoor picnics to the lake. Not to forget tanning. Tanning is a widely embraced phenomenon, and summers are all about getting that perfect tan to tell your friends just how amazing your summer was.
What most do not know is that tanning beds are a source of UV radiation. Thus, you need to limit your time in tanning beds in order to protect your skin and eyes. Here are a few other useful tips that might come in handy this July and all the summers to come without you risking your skin and eyes.
- Sunscreen is a must! You can afford to leave behind your favorite summer hat, but you cannot forget to pack sunscreen. It just won’t do.
- Use tanning beds for a limited period of time and avoid falling asleep directly under the sun.
- Wear protective clothing and eyewear. Make sure your body is covered while you are directly under the sun and even under shades.
- Avoid using sunscreen pills. These have been warned against by the FDA.
By taking a few of these precautionary measures, you can protect your eyes and skin from direct exposure to the sun. Try to limit outdoor activity when the sun is strongest and if you work long hours under the sun, use protective eyewear such as sunglasses that block UV rays. Just follow these simple tips and make your summers all the more fun-filled, exciting and thrilling!