July is UV Safety Awareness Month and while the sun’s warmth feels great, don’t forget that the sun emits radiation known as Ultraviolet A (UV-A) and Ultraviolet B (UV-B) rays.
UV-B rays have short wavelengths that reach the outer layer of your skin, while UV-A rays have longer wavelengths that can penetrate the skin’s middle layer.
UV Safety Tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:
- 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, either the lenses of the frame, 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 for protection: 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 the eyes can occur anytime during the year
- Protect your eyes during peak sun times: Sunglasses should be worn whenever outside, and it’s essential 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, and 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. In addition, if possible, 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.
In addition to the proper safety eyewear, regular eye exams for early detection and treatment of eye conditions and diseases are essential to maintaining good vision at every stage of life.