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The Effects Of UV Damage On Eye Health And Vision

The Effects Of UV Damage On Eye Health And Vision

When it comes to protecting our bodies from the harmful effects of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, we often focus on our skin. However, our eyes are equally susceptible to damage caused by prolonged exposure to UV radiation. UV radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun. It is divided into three types: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Both UVA and UVB rays can have damaging effects on our eyes. Protecting your eyes every day is as important as your annual eye exam. Let’s explore the effects of UV damage on eye health and vision and discuss the importance of taking preventative measures.

The Effects of UV Radiation On Eye Health And Vision

Here are just some of the ways sun damage can affect your eye health and vision:

  1. Cataracts: Prolonged exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of developing cataracts, a condition characterized by the clouding of the eye's natural lens. UVB rays, in particular, are known to accelerate the formation of cataracts, leading to blurry vision and eventual vision loss if left untreated.
  2. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): UV radiation has been linked to the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration, a condition that affects the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for sharp vision. AMD can lead to blurred or distorted vision and, in severe cases, central vision loss.
  3. Photokeratitis: Also known as "sunburn of the eye," photokeratitis is a painful condition that occurs when the cornea, the transparent outer layer of the eye, is damaged by excessive UV exposure. Symptoms include redness, tearing, light sensitivity, and a gritty sensation in the eyes. While photokeratitis is usually temporary, it highlights the immediate harm that UV rays can cause.
  4. Pterygium: Pterygium is a growth of tissue on the white part of the eye (conjunctiva) that can extend onto the cornea. Chronic exposure to UV radiation is believed to be a significant contributing factor to its development. Pterygium can cause discomfort, dryness, and blurred vision if it grows large enough to interfere with the cornea.

Protecting Your Eyes from UV Damage
Protecting your eyes from UV radiation is important year-round, even when it is not sunny. Here are some tips to safeguard your eyes against sun damage: 

  1. Wear UV-Protective Sunglasses: Invest in sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Look for sunglasses labeled as "UV400" or those that provide "100% UV protection." Wrap-around styles or those with large lenses offer better coverage and protection.
  2. Use Wide-Brimmed Hats: Combine your sunglasses with a wide-brimmed hat to provide additional shade and reduce the amount of UV radiation reaching your eyes.
  3. Seek Shade: Whenever possible, stay in shaded areas, especially during the peak hours of UV radiation (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
  4. Avoid Tanning Beds: Tanning beds emit high levels of UV radiation and should be avoided to protect both your skin and eyes.
  5. Regular Eye Exams: Schedule routine eye exams for your whole family with your optometrist. They can detect early signs of eye damage and provide appropriate treatment or guidance for prevention.

Monitor Your Eye Health With Regular Eye Exams

Protecting our eyes from the damaging effects of UV radiation is crucial for maintaining good eye health and preserving our vision. Whether it's wearing UV-protective sunglasses, seeking shade, or undergoing regular eye examinations, taking preventative measures is key. By being proactive and mindful of the sun's harmful rays, we can safeguard our eyes and enjoy a lifetime of healthy vision.

Regular eye exams monitor your eye health, but they are also an important part of maintaining your overall health. If you want to protect your eye health and your overall health, book an eye exam at Market Mall Optometry in Calgary NW. Our staff will check for any signs of UV damage and we will ensure you are informed and educated about your eye health and any developing conditions. To schedule an eye exam, call Market Mall Optometry at 1-403-286-4884 or fill out the online contact form.


Q: How often should I have an eye exam?
A: Adult eye exams are recommended once every two years, once a year for those over 65.

Q: What should I expect at an eye exam?
A: A standard eye exam includes:

  • Assessment to test colour deficiency
  • Measurement of depth perception
  • Measurement of the pressure inside of your eyes
  • Measurement of your existing glasses prescription
  • A review of any health concerns you may have or that may be in your family history
  • Examination of your eyes with and without the help of lenses 
  • Full assessment of the health of your eyes 
  • Retinal photo to assess the health of the back of your eyes 
  • Optometrist-determined prescription

Q: Are comprehensive eye exams uncomfortable?
A: A comprehensive eye exam is non-invasive so you will not feel any pain or discomfort for the duration of the exam.

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