In the midst of the winter, you may not think much about solar radiation, but the sun is not kind to your eyes. And, with the amount of snow we receive in Utah, that radiation bouncing up off the snow is just as bad as anything you receive at Lake Powell. Here’s the lowdown on solar radiation and your eyes.
Everyone knows about ultraviolet radiation (UV) and your skin. It also wreaks havoc on your eyes. Beyond the sun, UV radiation also comes from artificial sources like welding machines, tanning beds, and lasers. The lasers may not be that much of an issue unless your name is Han Solo.
The long and short of it
UV-A and UV-B radiation can affect your eyes both short-term and long-term.
Over the short term, UV radiation can cause photokeratitis. This is akin to sunburn of the eyes. It can be somewhat painful with symptoms such as red eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, excessive tearing, and sensitivity to light. These issues are temporary.
Long-term UV exposure is more dangerous. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to small amounts of UV radiation over the years increases the chance of developing cataracts and may lead to retina damage. The longer the exposure, the greater the association with development of cataracts and other issues such as macular degeneration.
How to protect your eyes
Dr. Griffeth recommends that you wear quality sunglasses and a hat or cap with a wide brim. Certain contact lenses have built-in UV protection, as well, so ask for those with your next order.
To provide adequate protection, your sunglasses should:
• Block out 99 to 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays.
• Screen out 75 to 90% of visible light.
• Have gray lenses so represent color accurately.
• Be high quality and free of distortion.
• Provide impact resistance if you wear them during hazardous work or for sports.
• If you are out a lot, wrap-around frames provide additional protection.
See us at Griffeth Vision at least every two years, so we can keep an eye on any problems that may be developing due to radiation exposure. Call us at 435-843-8333 for an appointment.