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How to protect your eyes from harmful UV-A and UV-B rays

How to protect your eyes from harmful UV-A and UV-B rays

Tuesday 01 June 2021

As summer approaches, it’s important to remind ourselves of what we should be doing to protect our eyes. UV radiation, whether from natural sunlight or artificial UV rays, can seriously damage our eyes.

UV-A and UV-B radiation can affect our eyes and vision in both the long- and short-term. There are several conditions that can be caused of aggravated by exposure to UV-A and UV-B, including:

  • AMD. Extended exposure to UV light increases your risk of developing macular degeneration.
  • Cataracts. UV rays can cause damage to lens proteins and heighten the possibility of you developing cataracts.
  • Pterygium. UV light is believed to be a factor in the development of these pink, non-cancerous growths that form over the white of the eye.
  • Photokeratitis. Also known as snow blindness, photokeratitis is caused by exposure to intense sunlight and can be caused by UV rays reflected off sand, water, ice and snow. It is often referred to as being like sunburn of the eye.

Everyone is at risk of eye damage from UV radiation, and anything that increases the amount of time you spend in the sun will increase your risk.

The best way to protect your eyes is to, first and foremost, know the dangers. UV rays radiate directly from the sun, but they are also reflected from the ground, from water, snow, sand and other bright surfaces. The best way to protect your eyes from potential harm is to wear proper eye protection and a hat to block the UV rays.

When buying sunglasses, it’s important to ensure that they offer the necessary protection. Always look for a CE, UV 400 or British Standard Mark. This ensures your sunglasses provide adequate UV protection. The British Standard sets performance levels for quality, strength, stability, design and manufacture as well as the amount of UV they let through. Purchasing sunglasses that don't conform to this standard is not advised.

Additionally, you should make sure you schedule regular eye tests. Having one every two years is recommended, but your optometrist will let you know if they need to see you more frequently. Not only will they be able to advise about your eye health, they will also check thoroughly for other underlying health conditions that may go otherwise undetected.


  1. SpecSavers.
  2. NCBI.
  3. Essilor.
  4. Vision Source.


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