To have UV protection for our eyes is important, but we often do not pay much attention to the dangers of UV radiation. However, taking care of our eyes is more important than we think.
Sadly, our eyes are easily one of the organs that we neglect the most. Although we might look after our skin or hair, we are likely to forget about our eyes. Yet, failing to maintain proper eye health can entail serious consequences, especially as we age.
And the number one enemy for our eyes is the harmful UV light that comes from the sun. We expose our eyes to UV radiation every day. And thus, every day, UV light does some damage to our eyes without us even noticing.
Mostly, people are aware of the damage of UV light to the skin. For instance, most people know that UV radiation hurts our skin, causing not only cancer, but also premature aging and wrinkles. However, our main concern here is the damage to our eyes.
UV rays damage both our skin and our eyes
The dangers of exposure to UV light are well known. Most skin cancers are the result of exposure to UV rays. And many studies show that there is a link between people exposing to the sunlight and some kinds of cancer. So be sure, when we expose ourselves to intense sunlight, for example on the beach or when skying, it is common to use some kind of protection for our skin.
Conversely, we don’t put much attention to the UV light that damages our eyes, day after day, even as we do our routine activities. Nonetheless, UV rays can cause several eye problems.
UV radiation can cause severe damage to the cornea, to the crystalline lens, and to the retina, the three most important parts of the eye. The cornea is the transparent part of our eyes that helps us to focus the light on the retina, producing two thirds of the eye’s optical power. The crystalline lens is a natural lens which produces one third of the eye’s total optical power. The retina is the light-sensitive part of our eyes that helps us to see, by transforming the light into visual information for the brain.
UV rays damage the cornea, causing inflammations, sunburn, and pterygium. They also cause cataracts to the crystalline lens. Furthermore, UV rays damage the retina, as they are one of the causes of macular degeneration.
All these conditions will affect negatively the vision. Basically, if we don’t use eye protection, the exposure to UV will increases the risk of potentially blinding eye diseases.
Why wearing spectacles protects us from UV rays?
Because UV light causes a lot of damage to the eyes, it is important to avoid exposing them to it as much as possible. Fortunately, there are several types of lenses that we can use to protect our eyes from UV light.
In effect, most spectacle lenses give some level of protection from UV light. Therefore, when we wear spectacles, we get the benefit of having UV protection for our eyes.
It is common for people to need vision correction for various reasons, such as myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, or presbyopia. And by wearing glasses every day, we are getting not only clear vision, but also some level or protection against UV.
Ironically, the people that are most at risk from UV light are those that don’t need vision correction, and therefore do not wear spectacles every day. While not needed to wear glasses to see clear is a blessing, it also means that there is no protection against UV rays.
People that don’t need to wear spectacles regularly will not have the protection that is provided by the lenses. Therefore, for everyday eye protection of from UV radiation, these people may consider the use spectacles with plano lenses. Plano lenses are lenses with no degree. Still, they can have coating that provides UV protection.
Premium lenses for premium UV protection
However, we should also note that the amount of UV protection from spectacle lenses is not the same for all lenses. While generic lenses might give 50-60% protection from UV, it is only the premium lenses with better coatings that will give full UV protection.
And for some lenses, such as ZEISS, the UV protection is not only in the coating of the lenses. It is also embedded in the material of the lenses itself. This means that over time, even if the coating is damaged, the lenses will still give full UV protection.
What about using sunglasses?
It is certainly important to use some eye protection when we are out in the sun. Obviously, it is very sensible to have sunglasses to flaunt when we are enjoying ourselves outdoor, in a bright day. Being exposed to the direct sunlight, we expose our eyes to more intense UV radiation.
Not to mention that if we are at sea on on the beach, the light reflected by the water or by the sand will amplify the exposure to UV. In the same way, if we are on the mountains, the reflections on the snow will have the same amplifying effect.
Therefore, a good pair of sunglasses is a must in these situations. And again, not all lenses are alike, when it comes to UV protection. Some sunglasses indicate the amount of UV protection that they provide. But most do not.
So how can we tell if we are protected? We may reckon that good quality sunglasses should also have good quality lenses. A sure way to know if sunglass lenses give us adequate UV protection is to use a UV meter. In most cases, this is not something that is available when we buy sunglasses. However, a spectacles shop should have a UV meter available. In this way, they will be able to assure customers about UV protection from sunglass lenses.
Do we get UV radiation in a cloudy day?
We mentioned the importance of using sunglasses in a bright day. Still, it is not obvious to most people that we are exposed to much UV radiation also when the weather is cloudy. In fact, the clouds may increase instead of reduce the amount of UV.
Important to realise, clouds block the visible light coming from the sun more than they block UV rays. Many studies reported this effect, known as cloud enhancement of UV. The increase in UV light can be significant. An article in 1994 on Nature reported up to 29 percent more UV in a cloudy day as compared to a day with clear sky.
As a result, we should be aware of the dangers of UV rays also on cloudy days. Thus, it is a good idea to have lenses with proper UV protection. Or else, to use sunglasses with light tint lenses, that we can use in those occasions.
Once again, people that regularly wear spectacles are better off, because their lenses already provide UV protection. Besides, spectacles wearers may consider the use of photochromic lenses, such as Transitions lenses. These are lenses that automatically change color, and adapt to the amount of UV light. They are clear indoor, and dark under sunlight. Since it the UV light that activates photochromic lenses, they assure very good protection under any condition, including cloudy sky.
Conclusion: Get lenses with full UV protection today!
At Visio Optical, we offer a wide range of premium lenses, that will give you full UV protection. Our experienced optometrists will assist you with the choice of lenses that give you the best UV protection, and they will advise you based on the prescription that you require.