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Protecting Your Eyes from the Sun: Why It’s Important

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Sunglasses are popular fashionable accessories. They make you look cool. They protect your eyes from the sun glare and help you see better during the day. These are the reasons most people wear sunglasses. However, protecting your eyes from the damage caused by the sun is their greatest gift to you. Sunglasses block the harmful UV rays and help you keep your eyes healthy.

Good sunglasses should be able to block 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays. The link between the ultraviolet radiation and the skin and eye damage is well established. Extended exposure to High Energy Visible (HEV) light may also lead to eye degeneration. And it’s not just the sun you need to be wary of various highly-reflective surfaces, such as snow, sand and water can also be a source of serious eye damage.

Prolonged exposure to sun may damage your eyes in a number of ways. Both long and short-term exposure to UV radiation and HEV light can have serious repercussions. Photosensitive eyes are at an even higher risk. Let us have a look at some of the eye-ailments caused by the sun, ranging from mildly irritating to downright deadly:

Blurred Vision and Headaches

Do you experience blurred vision and headache after spending some time in the sun? Well, your eyes are sun burnt. Prolonged unprotected sun exposure may lead to permanent damage to your eyesight.

Corneal Sunburn

Excessive exposure to UV radiations may result in Keratitis or corneal sunburn. Tanning machines may also cause it. You need to be especially careful at the high altitudes in winter, as UV is more intense there and the snow is highly reflective.


Pterygium or “surfer’s eye” is a growth on the eyeball. Although not serious, it can be painful and annoying. Surgery may be required to remove it. Wearing wraparound sunglasses even on cloudy days can help prevent this condition.


Cataract is progressive clouding and yellowing of the lens. It can cause serious sight-impairment. Long-term UV exposure is one of the leading causes of cataracts and glaucoma. If not treated properly, glaucoma may even lead to blindness.

Macular Degeneration

It is a condition where retina deteriorates, resulting in impaired vision and even blindness. Macular degeneration is one of the major causes of blindness in people over 60. Accumulated sun damage to the eyes over time is the culprit.


Skin cancers around the eyes are caused by prolonged exposure to the harsh UV radiations. More than 10% of all the skin cancer cases in the US are eyelid cancers. These cancers have a significant risk of spreading to the eyes, causing major damage. If diagnosed early, they can be fully treated.

It is apparent that protecting your eyes from the sun is crucial to keeping your eyesight safe. People of all ages should wear high quality sunglasses regularly. Children tend to spend more time in the sun and their eyes are more sensitive to UV radiations, make sure not to let them out on a sunny day without their sunglasses. Buy UV resistant sunglasses with brown tints to block most of the HEV light. Protect your eyes and visit a qualified ophthalmologist regularly.

Written by Total Focus

At Total Focus Optometry, we’ve spent the last 70 years building meaningful relationships with our patients and their families. From routine eye exams to contact lens fittings we offer our patients a variety of services to meet their eye care needs.

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