This is the time of the year (here in the UK) when the sun is at its strongest – this strength of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is expressed as a Solar UV Index or Sun Index. The UV Index does not exceed 8 in the UK (8 is actually rare; 7 can occur on exceptional days such as this period around the summer solstice). Indices of 9 and 10 are common in the Mediterranean area. What we do know now is that prolonged exposure to solar UV radiation can result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin and eyes. Worldwide some 12 to 15 million people become blind from cataracts annually, of which up to 20% are caused by prolonged sun exposure.
There are 3 types of UV rays but only two are potentially damaging i.e. UVA and UVB.
UVA – can hurt your central vision. It can damage the macula, a part of the retina at the back of your eye.
UVB – can affect the front part of your eye (the cornea and the lens) and these rays may cause even more damage to your eyes than UVA rays.
The two main eye problems associated with UV rays are:
- Macular Degeneration: this is the main cause of vision loss especially for older people.
- Cataracts: UV rays, especially UVB rays, can lead to cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, the part of the eye that focuses the light we see.
So apart from wearing sunscreen to prevent skin cancer (which causes at least 2000 deaths annually, just in the UK) wearing good quality sunglasses is essential the moment you step outdoors and especially in summer. All good quality sunglasses should be UV400 rated providing the maximum protection from harmful UV rays and every single sunglass we sell on our site is UV400 rated. And as we always say “don’t forget the kids”, since eye damage from UV radiation builds over time, it is important to protect the eyes of children, which are particularly sensitive to UV radiation.