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This May is UV Awareness Month


By now, most Americans are familiar with the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) exposure to your skin, (including sunburn and skin cancer) and the need for applying sunblock and avoiding direct contact with the sun particularly during the blazing summer months. What is less known is that UV and other types of radiation from the sun can also cause severe damage to your eyes.

If you often face the sun without sunglasses, think again. Continual contact with harmful ultraviolet light has been linked to damage to the eye.

Risks of UV Eye Exposure

Exposure to excessive quantities of ultraviolet radiation over a short interval can cause photokeratitis which means a ''sunburn of the eye'', leading to pain, blurred vision or even temporary blindness. Long-term UV exposure can lead to more threatening eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can be a threat to vision. Individuals that come into frequent contact with welding machines, tanning beds and lasers are also at heightened risk of exposure to UV radiation.

UV Eye Protection

To shield your eyes from threatening UV rays, sunglasses should completely block all UV rays. Look for sunglasses labeled ''UV 400'', which means that they block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers (which includes both UVA and UVB rays, both known to enter the atmosphere).

You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Wraparound sunglasses can prevent harmful UV rays from coming in through the rear of the sunglasses.

You don't have to empty your pockets to have sufficient UV coverage, but it's essential to be certain the sunglasses give full UV defense. Many less-exclusive brands do offer proper defense from the dangerous risks of exposure to sunlight. Further, in addition to keeping your eyes safe from the sun's harmful rays, trendy sunglasses are in style, so pick up a pair (or two) and let the sun shine down!