How Do the UV Rays of the Sun Affect the Eyes?

Just like your skin, your eyes are susceptible to harm from overexposure to UV radiation from the sun. You can learn more about how to protect your eyes and protect your vision from the effects of UV radiation by reading on.

What Is UV Radiation?

  • UV radiation has a shorter wavelength than the visible light given off by the sun, and appears invisible to the human eye. Some types of UV radiation are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer, but UVA and UVB rays pass through to the surface and can cause severe damage to the skin and eyes. UV radiation is also emitted by many manmade objects, such as welding torches and tanning beds.

How Does UV Radiation Affect The Eyes?

  • Too much short-term exposure to the sun can cause the cornea of your eye to become irritated and swollen, much like a sunburn on your skin. This condition is called photokeratitis, and it can cause feelings of grittiness or light sensitivity as well as teary, reddened eyes. The condition is temporary and does not result in permanent damage in vision, though it can cause some discomfort at the time.
  • Long-term exposure to UV radiation is one of the leading causes of cataracts, which lead to cloudy or impaired vision and require treatments such as eye surgery. It can also damage the retina in your eyes, causing an irreversible condition known as macular degeneration. Over time, cumulative damage can also contribute to chronic eye diseases and conditions such as pterygium, a growth on the eyeball itself that can cause vision problems such as astigmatism, and pinguecula, a non-cancerous growth on the mucous membranes of the eye.

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