Extended exposure ultraviolet (UV) rays can immediately cause damage to eyes, including photokeratitis, also referred to as a “corneal sunburn.” UV damage to the eyes may also be cumulative, resulting in the development of cataract or cancer later in life.
Prevent Blindness Illinois has declared May as Ultraviolet Awareness Month to help educate the public on the dangers of UV exposure. We have created dedicated fact sheets and web resources on topics related to the basics on how UV can damage the eyes, to advice on choosing the best UV eye protection, and more.
The risk of sun-related eye problems is higher for people who:
- have light-colored eyes
- spend long hours in the sun
- have had cataract surgery
- have certain retina disorders
- are on certain medicines, such as tetracycline, sulfa drugs, birth control pills, diuretics and tranquilizers that increase the eye’s sensitivity to light.
The best protection against UV damage to the eyes is wearing a brimmed hat in conjunction with UV-blocking sunglasses. Consumers should always read labels carefully and only purchase sunglasses that clearly state that the sunglasses block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. An eye care professional can recommend the best eye protection based on outdoor activity and/or prescription lens needs.
For more information on UV eye protection, please visit the website page.