Do you like to spend a lot of time outdoors? Spending time in the sun, camping, hiking—these are all things that are great outdoor activities, but it is important to make sure you are taking the right steps to protecting yourself from the sun’s rays. Most people know to protect their skin from the sun, but the dangers the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays pose to your eyes are much less common knowledge.
In light of this, we wanted to take the time to share some information with you regarding UV eye safety and how you can better protect your vision when spending a lot of time outdoors. Here are five things people can do to cut their risk of eye damage from the sun:
1. Choose the right pair of sunglasses – Not all sunglasses provide the same coverage and contrary to popular belief, the darkness of the lens does not determine if the lens blocks UV rays. Only sunglasses labeled as having “100% UV Protection” or “UV400” will protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Even if the weather is overcast you should still wear sunglasses as the sun’s UV rays still pass through cloud cover and can damage your eyes.
2. Don’t look directly at the sun – I think this should probably go without saying but “DON’T STARE AT THE SUN!” Yes, this can be very damaging for your eyes and can even lead to irreversible damage in certain rare cases. Staring directly at the sun can cause holes to burn in your retina—this condition Is called “solar retinopathy.”
3. Read the labels on your medication – According to a recent survey, one in three adults use medications that can potentially make your eyes more susceptible to UV damage. Some of the common medications that can cause these problems include: Birth control, psoriasis treatments, antibiotics and estrogen pills. If your medication increases your eyes susceptibility to UV damage, then it will be labeled as “causing photosensitivity.” If you see this on the label, make sure to protect your eyes and skin from too much sun exposure.
4. Wear more hats – Sunglasses are a necessary investment for your fun in the sun, but you shouldn’t underestimate the effectiveness of a hat in regards to blocking sunlight. A combination of both is the best way to ensure your eyes are getting the protection they need from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
5. Drive with UV protection – Studies have shown that car side windows on average only block 71 percent of UV rays, in contrast to the front windshield which blocks 96 percent on average. According to studies, only approximately 14 percent of car side windows provide high enough levels of UV protections to guard your eyes and skin from the sun.