The risks for your eyes
If you don’t properly protect your eyes, what are the risks? Well, did you know that UV damage is responsible for 90% of visible premature aging? Or that eye infections and other more serious conditions can result from overexposure to sunlight?
From mild discomfort to temporary conditions and long-term diseases, discover the different afflictions that can affect your eyes.
Being in the sun doesn’t just make us feel good; it’s essential for life. But too much sunlight can be harmful for our bodies. And while most of us are aware of the risks of overexposing our skin to the sun, the potential dangers for our eyes are less well-known.
When you get something in your eye
The most obvious sources of eye irritation are those we notice immediately, such as glare from reflected light or aggression from external elements.
You probably know that feeling of having something in your eye – whether it is a grain of sand from the beach, dust or pollen from the wind, or an flying insect. Any of these can lead to discomfort, infection and even cornea injuries. Gardening and DIY enthusiasts are particularly susceptible, as are children, who like to rub their eyes with dirty or unwashed hands.
Dealing with temporary eyes conditions
If you’ve ever had an eye infection, you’ll know they can be extremely painful. Conjunctivitis, which is an inflammation of the eye’s outer layer, can be caused by external irritants, as well as viral and bacterial infections.
Other short-term eye damage can be a result of overexposing your eyes to the sun.
• Photokeratitis or ultraviolet keratitis is a painful temporary condition caused by intense exposure to UV light. It is often referred to as snow blindness, as it may occur when the eye is subjected to the intense glare of UV rays reflected off snow and ice.
• Solar retinopathy is damage to the retina at the back of our eyes resulting from overexposure to UV radiation. It causes temporary blindness or spotty vision.
Long-term eye damage
Continued exposure to UV light can, over time, cause permanent damage to our eyes.
• UVA rays contribute to aging the eye and can lead to the early onset of cataracts
• UVB rays are responsible for burning the cornea, a painful condition that can be irreversible
• UV rays can also cause cancer on the highly sensitive skin around the eye and on the eyelid
• Part of blue light can contribute to the risk of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the Western world
• Infrared light can provoke irreversible retina damage in extreme conditions
Like many parts of our body, our eyes are equipped with their own defence system. When you squint, you are protecting your eyes against glare. And when you are faced with bright light, your eyelids will gently close and your pupils will retract to restrict the intake of light.Your eyes also have a built-in mechanism for filtering light, including harmful rays such as UV. The cornea and crystalline lens at the front of your eye help shield your retina at the back. And when your eyes water, that’s also a form of natural protection, helping to block out threats such as light, smoke or fumes.However, sustained use of your natural defence mechanism will eventually wear it out, potentially leading to the conditions listed above.
Get extra protection to maintain your vision
Even though our eyes are equipped with their own defence system, this alone is not enough to protect them.
Wearing the right sunglasses will give your eyes the extra protection they need. Sunglasses filter out the dangerous rays in sunlight so your eyes don’t have to. Of course, some sunglasses do this better than others, which is why the E-SPF rating system was created to gauge protection levels (more information on ESPF web site). Furthermore, a good pair of sunglasses will protect against physical nuisances and blinding glare. This means you’ll enjoy the best vision your eyes can offer – now and in the future.