In the cold winter months it is a given that we bundle up before venturing out in order
to protect ourselves from the freezing weather. However, many people are unaware of
another looming danger to the eyes - exposure to ultra violet (UV) rays. Wearing sunglasses
to protect against UV eye damage is especially important in the cold winter months that
deliver glaring white snow and extra bright light.
Ultra violet radiation is made up of two types of harmful rays, namely UVA and UVB rays
which originate directly from the sun. Even though very small amounts of UVA and UVB are
able to reach your inner eye, both types of radiation present a threat to your vision as they
have the potential to damage your eyes.
Powerful short-term exposure to UVB rays can lead to photokeratitis or sunburn of the eye.
This is when the cornea absorbs UVB rays and in the process destroys the outer cells leading
to pain, blurred vision or even temporary blindness. UVA rays can infiltrate much deeper
into the eye and cause permanent damage to the retina.
Long-term exposure to UV rays can also lead to abnormal tissue growth on the eye, known
as pterygium. This is a thin, wedge-shaped tissue growth with blood vessels that grows over
the white part on the surface of the eye which aside from being cosmetically unappealing,
can cause irritation and possibly lead to the development of astigmatism.
One of the best ways to protect your eyes from UV rays is through the use of quality
sunglasses or prescription glasses that offer maximum UV protection by blocking out 100
percent of UVA and UVB rays. Wearing an inadequate pair of sunglasses can be worse than
using no sun wear at all. Sunglasses with insufficient UV protection block some of the light,
causing your iris to open and allow more light in. This in turn lets in more UV light, increasing
the amount of UV reaching the retina and in essence escalating your overall exposure to UV
There are a number of UV protection options for eyewear and sun wear including fixed tint
sunglasses, adaptive lenses and polarized lenses. There is no way to avoid UV ray exposure,
so speak to us. Together we can determine the best way to protect your eyes from the
strong winter glare.