Eye Health and Sun Exposure: Staying Safe in the Summer Sun

eye health Toronto

Summer is the season for outdoor activities and soaking up the sun. While many people remember to protect their skin with sunscreen, it is also important to remember that warm weather brings an increased risk to the health of our eyes due to sun exposure. Protecting your eyes from the sun early on can save you from years of damaging ultraviolet light exposure. Continue reading to learn more.

Understanding the Risks of Sun Exposure to the Eyes

Too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can increase your risk of certain eye conditions, including:

Cataracts: Cataracts can develop over time, and by exposing your eyes to the sun without sunglasses or other protective measures, your risk of serious eye disease increases. This is why it is important that children and babies have effective eye protection when out in the sun.

Surfer’s eye: Pterygium, also known as surfer’s eye, is a growth on the eye. It may start as pinguecula, which is a raised growth on the conjunctiva, before developing into surfer’s eye. The growth may spread and begin to cover a portion of the cornea, which can affect vision in that eye. This condition is believed to be caused, in part, by UV light exposure.

Snow blindness: When UV light reflects off surfaces such as snow, sand, or water, it can lead to a type of photokeratitis known as snow blindness. Likened to having a sunburned eye, this eye condition impacts the surface of the cornea and the conjunctiva.

Protecting Your Eyes from Sun Damage

Sunglasses: Sunglasses offer great protection from the sun, but you must use the correct type of sunglasses for this type of protection to be effective. Many people forget to check the UV rating of their glasses. You should look for sunglasses that offer 100% UV or UV400 protection or those that shield against both UV-A and UV-B rays.

Wear hats: Wearing a wide-brimmed hat in addition to sunglasses can help give your eyes additional protection from UV damage.

Avoid the sun during midday: The sun’s rays are strongest from midday to early afternoon. Staying out of the sun during these times can save your eyes from harmful damage.

Avoid looking directly at the sun: You should never look directly into the sun; doing so can damage your eyes’ retinas, and your eyes could develop a condition known as solar retinopathy. Even during a solar eclipse, you may still be at risk of UV damage if you stare directly into the sun.

Schedule a Consultation Today

If you are concerned about how the health of your eyes may have been affected by sun exposure, or simply want to know more about protecting your eyes, schedule an appointment at Bochner Eye Institute today by calling or emailing a location near you.