How Important Is It To Protect Your Eyes?

24th, July 2014

Most people are aware of how important it is to protect you and your child’s skin from the effects of sun but how many us are aware of the damaging effect UV radiation from the sun can have on our eyes?

Optique Eye & Ear Care – How Important Is It To Protect Your Eyes?

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Most people are aware of how important it is to protect you and your child’s skin from the effects of sun but how many us are aware of the damaging effect UV radiation from the sun can have on our eyes? 

At Optique Eye & Ear Care, we understand the range of conditions that can be caused by not wearing protection in the sun. Extended exposure to the sun's UV rays has been linked to eye damage, including cataracts, macular, pingueculae and pterygia and photokeratitis that can cause temporary vision loss. 

High-energy visible (HEV) radiation may increase the long-term risk of macular degeneration. Those with low blood plasma levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants are most at risk of retinal damage from HEV radiation, so protection is a must. 

What are the dangers of Ultraviolet Radiation to the eyes?

To fully protect your eyes from harmful radiation, sunglasses are recommended as the safest way to block 100% of UV rays and also absorb most HEV rays. Choose frames with a close-fitting wraparound style to offer the best protection by limiting how much sunlight reaches your eyes from above and beyond the periphery of the sunglass lenses. 

At Optique Eye and Ear Care we have a wide range of frames including designer brands. Our friendly team will help you find a suitable pair to provide protection of the eyes and also to find a pair to complement your facial shape. 

What are UV rays?

There are three categories of UV rays. These include:

UVC rays. These are the highest-energy UV rays and potentially could be the most harmful to your eyes and skin. Fortunately, the atmosphere's ozone layer blocks virtually all UVC rays.
UVB rays. These have slightly longer wavelengths (280-315 nm) and lower energy than UVC rays. These rays are filtered partially by the ozone layer, but some still reach the earth's surface.
In low doses, UVB radiation stimulates the production of melanin (a skin pigment), causing the skin to darken, creating a suntan.
In higher doses, UVB rays cause sunburn that increases the risk of skin cancer. UVB rays also cause wrinkles, skin discolorations and other signs of premature aging of the skin.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are higher in energy and do not fall within the realm of visible light, as shown here. In the electromagnetic spectrum, radio waves have the lowest energy, and gamma rays have the highest energy. 

UVA rays. These are closer to visible light rays and have lower energy than UVB and UVC rays. But UVA rays can pass through the cornea and reach the lens and retina inside the eye. 

Overexposure to UVA radiation has been linked to the development of certain types of cataracts, and research suggests UVA rays may play a role in development of macular degeneration.

Various eye problems have been associated with overexposure to UV radiation. For example, UVB rays are thought to cause pingueculae and pterygia. These growths on the eye's surface can become unsightly and cause corneal problems as well as distorted vision.

In high short-term doses, UVB rays also can cause photokeratitis (Snow Blindness) which is a painful inflammation of the cornea. This can cause temporary vision loss usually lasting 24-48 hours.

HEV Radiation Risks

As the name suggests, high-energy visible (HEV) radiation, or blue light, is visible. Although HEV rays have longer wavelengths (400-500 nm) and lower energy than UV rays, they penetrate deeply into the eye and can cause retinal damage over time. 

Book a 4D Eye Scan at Optique Eye and Ear Care to assess the damage to your eyes. Our scan is the first to also allow early diagnosis of diseases including, Diabetes, Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration. Standard optician’s equipment cannot detect these at present. 

Sun Safety Essentials

Clip-on and Fit-over Sunglasses: Customised and Non-Customised Eyeglasses and Sunglasses in One – available at Optique Eye & Ear Care

If you wear prescription glasses it’s recommended that you wear sunglasses while outside; standard glasses won't shield your eyes from harmful UV and HEV radiation.

Despite this, many go without proper protection because of the extra cost for prescription sunglasses or the inconvenience of having to switch glasses. Fit-over or clip-on sunglasses may be an ideal solution for you.

At Optique Eye & Ear Care all our lenses block 100 percent of UV rays. Clip-on and Fit-over sunglasses are available in customised versions to fit your existing prescription frames or non-customised version. Call 028 9066 7030 today to find out more.

Outdoor Risk Factors

Anyone who spends time outdoors is at risk for eye problems from UV radiation. Risks of eye damage from UV and HEV exposure change from day to day depending on various factors including:

  • Geographic location. UV levels are greater in tropical areas near the earth's equator. The farther you are from the equator, the smaller your risk.
  • Altitude. UV levels are greater at higher altitudes.
  • Time of day. UV and HEV levels are greater when the sun is high in the sky, typically from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Setting. UV and HEV levels are greater in wide open spaces, especially when highly reflective surfaces are present, like snow and sand. 

*UV exposure can nearly double when UV rays are reflected from the snow. UV exposure is less likely in urban settings, where tall buildings shade the streets. 

  • Medications. Certain medications such as, birth control pills, diuretics and tranquilizers, can increase your body's sensitivity to UV and HEV radiation. Please speak to your optician or call Optique Eye & Ear Care to arrange an eye test for more information. 

*Cloud cover doesn't affect UV levels significantly. The risk of UV exposure can be high even on hazy or overcast days. This is because UV is invisible radiation and can penetrate through clouds.

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At Optique Eye & Ear Care we provide a wide range of designer frames and sunglasses. Call in at 573 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7GS, call us on 028 9066 7030 or email us at to find out more. 

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