While most people are aware of the cause-and-effect relationship between the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and skin cancer, less people are aware of the damage that the sun and UV radiation can cause to the eyes. Of those who do protect their eyes with sunglasses, 47 percent don’t check the UV protection level of their sunglasses before purchasing them.
According to the American Optometric Association, both short- and long-term exposure to sunlight can cause damage to the eyes. Short-term exposure can lead to any of the following conditions:
- Photokeratitis (sunburn to the cornea)
- Pterygium (tissue growth on the whites of the eyes that can block vision)
- Skin cancer on the eyelids
Long-term overexposure to sunlight and UV radiation over the course of a lifetime can also result in cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and cancer that affects the skin around the eye or even the eye itself.
Outdoor workers need eyewear that protects them not only from job hazards, but also from the sun. In order to reduce sun exposure to the eyes, consider the following tips when working outdoors:
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection of more than 95 percent, even in cloudy weather.
- Wear sunglasses with a lens tint that blocks at least 80 percent, but no more than 90 percent, of transmissible light. Some recommended tints to choose from are amber, neutral gray, brown and green.
- Protect your eyes from all angles by wearing sunglasses that wrap all the way around the temples, or wear a hat with a 3-inch brim to block overhead sunlight.
Image Attribution – Fathers and Sons, Caps and Water – by Moonjazz – Public Domain