Keep an eye on the UV Index
5th August 2019
Everyone is exposed to Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) from the sun; UV rays from the sun travel down to the surface of the earth and can cause major damage to our skin. There are two main types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays are longer and can cause sun damage that result in aging and wrinkles, whilst UVB rays will cause sunburn and skin cancer. The UV index, also known as the Ultraviolet Index, is an international system of measuring ultraviolet solar radiation for a specific day and geographical location. The higher the index, the more intense and dangerous to your health the solar radiation is. When the UV Index reaches 3 or more – even on cloudy days – wearing sunglasses is vital, especially for children. Here is the breakdown about each level of the UV Index and how you can protect yourself at each level from zero and above.
- A low UV Index is rated between 0 and 2. The best option of protection if outside is sunscreen and sunglasses
- A medium UV Index is rated between 3 and 5. The best option of protection adds a hat to our sunscreen and sunglasses
- A high UV Index is rated between 6 and 7. In addition to sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat you should find shade during the day if outside
- A very high UV Index is rated between 8 and 10. This means we need to use sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, light coloured clothing and shade
- An extreme UV Index is anything over 11. This means that you need to avoid being outside or stay in the shade
Some conditions can amplify the UV index, such as a beach. White sands can nearly double UV exposure as the sun reflects off the surface. During the winter, snow can also double the output of UV strength, again because the sun reflects off the white surface.
In the UK the UV index does not exceed 8 however indices of 9 and 10 are common in the Mediterranean.
It’s worth remembering that our eyes are ten times more sensitive to UV light than our skin and children’s eyes are at the greatest risk of UV damage, so protection from UV by wearing good quality (UV400 rated) sunglasses when outdoors in the summer is essential to avoid long term eye damage from UVR.