UV Protection

UV Radiation, The UV Index, and What It All Means to Your Eyes

Image of Rehoboth Beach Delaware, Home of Shademakers Eyeware


What is Ultraviolet Light?

Ultraviolet Light is light radiation that has a shorter wavelength and a higher energy than violet light in the visible spectrum.

From the FDA.ORG: UV radiation is only one type of Electro Magnetic energy you may be familiar with. Radio waves that transmit sound from a radio station’s tower to your stereo, or between cell phones; microwaves, like those that heat your food in a microwave oven; visible light that is emitted from the lights in your home; and X-rays like those used in hospital X-ray machines to capture images of the bones inside your body, are all forms of EM energy.

UV radiation is the portion of the EM spectrum between X-rays and visible light and is classified as a carcinogen by the EPA.  
For more in-depth information about UV radiation please see this article from the Health Physics Society.

What Damage Can UV Light Cause to My Eyes?

While UV light can cause cataracts, cancer and Photokeratitis, short term exposure to UV light helps your body create Vitamin D.

The amount of sun exposure needed to help your body make vitamin D is very small.  Usually it only takes about fifteen minutes twice per week for most people to get enough UV exposure.  We are discussing exposures significantly beyond that amount.  In addition, certain oral and topical medicines, such as antibiotics, birth control pills, and benzoyl peroxide products, as well as some cosmetics, may increase skin and eye sensitivity to UV in all skin types. Check the label and ask your doctor for more information.

According to the EPA the cumulative effects of spending long hours in the sun without adequate eye protection can increase the likelihood of developing the following eye disorders:

  • Cataract: A clouding of the eye’s lens that can blur vision.
  • Snow Blindness (Photokeratitis): A temporary but painful burn to the cornea caused by a day at the beach without sunglasses; reflections off of snow, water, or concrete; or exposure to artificial light sources such as tanning beds.
  • Pterygium: An abnormal, but usually non-cancerous, growth in the corner of the eye. It can grow over the cornea, partially blocking vision, and may require surgery to be removed.
  •  Skin Cancer around the Eyelids: Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer to affect the eyelids. In most cases, lesions occur on the lower lid, but they can occur anywhere on the eyelids, in the corners of the eye, under the eyebrows, and on adjacent areas of the face.

Eye Physiology

PreventBlindness.Org reports that according to the World Health Organization, up to 80 percent of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV is received before the age of 18.
"In fact, children are more susceptible to UV damage than adults because they tend to spend more time outside than adults. And, according to the American Optometric Association, children are at a greater risk of UV damage because the lenses of their eyes are more transparent, which allows more short wavelength light to reach the retina. UV damage to the eyes is cumulative, meaning it builds over time. UV exposure has been linked to cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye problems."

The role of vision wear in preventing UV related eye damage is explored in this white paper from Transitions that summarizes the work done for a congressional investigation of eye dangers.

How Do I Know If I Am In Danger?

The UV Index is Provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

CLICK HERE to see the UV Index for Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  

For a map of the country showing areas with elevated UV index values CLICK HERE.

Exposure
Category
Index Number
Sun Protection Messages
LOW
<2

You can safely enjoy being outside. Wear sunglasses on bright days. If you burn easily, cover up and use sunscreen SPF 15+.

In winter, reflection off snow can nearly double UV strength.

MODERATE
3-5

Take precautions if you will be outside, such as wearing a hat and sunglasses and using sunscreen SPF 15+. Reduce your exposure to the sun's most intense UV radiation by seeking shade during midday hours.

HIGH
6-7

Protection against sun damage is needed. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, use sunscreen SPF 15+ and wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants when practical. Reduce your exposure to the sun's most intense UV radiation by seeking shade during midday hours.

VERY HIGH
8-10

Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A shirt, hat and sunscreen are a must, and be sure you seek shade.

Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure.

EXTREME
11+

Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A shirt, hat and sunscreen are a must, and be sure you seek shade.

Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure.

 

Table courtesy of EPA.GOV.

How Do I Protect Myself and My Family

Get High Quality Eyewear from the Skilled Opticians at Shademakers Eyeware in Rehoboth Beach, DE.

Shademakers Eyeware

All marketing aside, it is important that you protect your eyes by purchasing and wearing quality eyewear.  Note that sunglasses are recommended outdoors around midday under all conditions.  The beachgoer warning about white sand and other bright surfaces reflecting UV radiation indicates that a hat is simply not enough.  Sunglasses are a must at the beach! Here are some things to look for when you shop for sunglasses.

  • No matter what sunglass styles or options you choose, you should insist that your sunglasses block 99–100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.
  • If the glasses provide 99–100 percent UV-A and UV-B protection, price should not be a deciding factor.
  • Not all contact or glasses lenses offer UV protection and not all provide similar absorption levels. 
  • Be sure your sunglasses cover the eye and filter all light reaching the eye.  Poor fit can negate the beneficial effect of your sunglasses.
  • High performance coatings and lenses, in frames that fit and look good, can make beach vision much more pleasant.
  • Ask your eye care professional for more information, and remember, a combination approach works best!

Custom Website Design by Delaware.Net