As the weather warms up, visions of sandy beaches, family picnics, and outdoor adventures become reality, but with all that time outside, don't forget to keep your peepers protected from the serious dangers associated with UV rays. Just as we make the effort to protect our skin from sunburns, we should also make sure that our eyes are safeguarded as well so that we can maintain healthy vision for many summers to come.
- Know about ultraviolet radiation. There are three different ranges of ultraviolet radiation (UVA): UV-C, UV-B and UV-A. Most eye damage is a result of UV-B rays, which many researchers suspect may contribute to the development of cataracts and eye cancer.
- Keep kids' eyes protected. It's estimated that we receive 80% of our lifetime exposure to ultraviolet rays before the age of 18. Children's eyes transmit more UV-A rays to the retina than adults', which increases their exposure and risk of eye damage later in life.
- Sport your sunglasses. Wear sunglasses that transmit no more than 1% of UV-B and UV-A. The lenses should be dark and large enough to cover your entire eye to prevent sunlight from getting in through the sides of the sunglasses.
- Add more protection with contact lenses. If you're one of the approximately 36 million Americans who wear contact lenses, you might already be protecting your eyes. Some contacts provide ultraviolet ray protection, but beware that protection levels vary. Class one UV-blockers provide the largest amount of protection.
- Wear a hat. Wide brimmed hats shade your eyes from the sun's rays.