UV light, or ultraviolet radiation, is a natural component of sunlight and is also emitted by some artificial light sources. It is a wavelength of light that’s too short to be seen by the human eye, but it still has a major effect on your vision. Proper eye care involves limiting exposure to UV radiation, because UV can be as damaging to your eyes as it is to your skin. Dr. Doug Dolan, the optician at Dolan Family Vision in Kalispell, MT, warns of the potential effects of UV exposure.
Short-term intense UV exposure, such as at the beach or in the snow, can cause a condition called photokeratitis. Also known as snow blindness or a corneal sunburn, photokeratitis causes pain and sometimes temporary vision loss. Protect against it with specially designed snow goggles or other protective eyewear, which will limit the amount of UV light that reaches your eyes.
Over time, UV exposure can cause permanent eye problems. The most common form of age blindness, caused by macular degeneration, is caused by the cumulative effects of UV exposure over a lifetime. This exposure slowly degrades the retina, impairing vision. Another part of the eye, the lens, can also be damaged by UV light in a way that affects vision. Roughly 10% of cataracts are directly caused by long-term UV exposure, making simple sunlight a major threat to your vision.
Avoiding direct sunlight and wearing hats with visors can protect your eyes, but does not stop the UV radiation that reflects from all the surfaces around you. The best way to protect against UV radiation is to wear appropriate eyewear, such as UV-protective eyeglasses. Not all sunglasses provide sufficient protection, but a good pair can offer effective eye care and preserve your vision for longer.
If you need advice for protecting your eyes or you would like to schedule an eye exam, Dolan Family Vision can help. Call them at (406) 756-8420, or learn more about the eye care practice online.