Summertime means more time spent outdoors, and studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and growths on the eye, including cancer.*
This June, UNC Eye joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AA0) in observing UV (ultraviolet light) Safety Awareness Month. Through its EyeSmart™ campaign, the AAO wants to remind Americans of the importance of protecting their eyes from the sun's harmful rays by wearing proper protection. We also want to remind you of the importance of protecting eyes from indoor UV light when using tanning beds.
The AAO offers these tips to protect your eyes from the sun:
- Don't focus on color or darkness of sunglass lenses:
- Select sunglasses that block UV rays. Don't be deceived by color or cost.
- The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the price tag or how dark the sunglass lenses are.
- Check for 100 percent UV protection:
- Make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV-A rays and UV-B rays.
- Choose wrap-around styles:
- Ideally, your sunglasses should wrap all the way around to your temples, so the sun's rays can't enter from the side.
- Wear a hat:
- In addition to your sunglasses, wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your eyes.
- Don't rely on contact lenses:
- Even if you wear contact lenses with UV protection, remember your sunglasses.
- Don't be fooled by clouds:
- The sun's rays can pass through haze and thin clouds. Sun damage to eyes can occur anytime during the year, not just in the summertime.
- Protect your eyes during peak sun times:
- Sunglasses should be worn whenever outside, and it's especially important to wear sunglasses in the early afternoon and at higher altitudes, where UV light is more intense.
- Never look directly at the sun.
- Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, damage to the eye's retina from solar radiation.
- Don't forget the kids:
- Everyone is at risk, including children.
- Protect their eyes with hats and sunglasses.
- Try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun's UV rays are the strongest.
During UV Safety Month, remember to schedule your eye exam appointment with a UNC Eye MD by calling 919-966-5509.
* Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology