How the Sun Affects Your Eyes

How the Sun Affects Your Eyes main image

Author: BrightEyes
Date posted: 11 November 2022

We all know that the sun can be harmful to our skin. We apply our sunscreen almost religiously, we are trying our best to avoid the hottest parts of the day and try our best to stay hydrated. But did you know that it can also damage your eyes as well?

Now, exposure to natural light has some really important benefits. We get our dose of vitamin D, our brains work better and we get that beautiful golden tan. And let’s face it, you can’t avoid the sun. So what is the best you can do?

Educate yourself about sun damage to your eyes, learn how to recognize the most common symptoms and learn more about the proper protection. 


UVA, UVB, UVC Rays And Sun Damage To Your Eyes

Excessive exposure to sunlight can cause severe damage. The main culprit for this is ultraviolet radiation. UV light causes cumulative damage to your eyesight. You won’t be able to feel it instantly because it builds up during your lifetime, leaving permanent damage. 

When it comes to how the sun affects your eyes, most people think about UVB and UVA rays. However, there is another type of ray – UVC – that also has an impact.

UVA rays make up about 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the earth’s surface. They are relatively long in wavelength and can penetrate clouds and glass. Although they don’t cause sunburn, they can penetrate deep into the skin and cause premature aging (wrinkles, leathery skin) and contribute to the development of skin cancer. 

The ozone layer gets the most of these rays. They can penetrate your cornea and reach your retina and lens. UVA represents low-energy radiation and it can cause damage to the macula, the deepest part of your eye. Overexposure to UVA light can also lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems.

UVB rays are shorter in wavelength than UVA rays and make up about 5% of the UV radiation that reaches the earth’s surface. They are the primary cause of sunburn and play a role in the development of skin cancer. They are filtered out by clouds but not by the glass. They can cause sun burns. 

Overexposure to UVB radiation can cause a condition called photokeratitis, which is like a sunburn on the cornea (the clear front part of the eye). This can happen after just a few minutes of exposure and can result in pain, redness, tearing, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. In severe cases, it can lead to temporary blindness. 

UVC rays are even shorter in wavelength than UVB rays but fortunately, they are completely absorbed by the ozone layer and do not reach the earth’s surface. They are also the most harmful.

The sun can be harsh on your eyes, causing a number of problems. The most common problem is photokeratitis, which is basically a sunburn of the cornea. This can happen if you stare at the sun for even a short period of time. It can cause redness, pain, tearing, and light sensitivity. 

The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation can also cause pterygium, a growth of tissue on the white part of the eye.

Finally, too much exposure to the sun can simply cause your eyes to become irritated and red. These conditions are all serious, but there are things you can do to protect your eyes from the sun and reduce your risk of developing these problems.


Symptoms Of Sun Damage To Your Eyes

Sun damage to your eyes can happen easily if you don’t take care of protecting your eyes. The risk increases during the summer months when people are more active and spend more time outdoors. So if you notice one of these symptoms, it is time to think about further steps you can take to help your eyes recover. 

  • Light sensitivity: if you noticed that your eyes are more sensitive to light, there is a high probability that you experienced sun damage. If you are experiencing severe pain, it is not a good sign and you should seek medical attention immediately. 
  • Seeing rings of light: if you see rings or halos, it might be a sign that you suffered a corneal sunburn. These rings of light usually disappear in a day or two but they can be used as a warning to protect your eyes better. 
  • Teary /watery eyes: if your eyes are damaged by the sun, they will produce more tears in order for the eyes to heal faster. If you are suffering from these symptoms, avoid wearing eye makeup or contact lenses as it further irritates your eyes. 
  • There is something in my eye feeling: this feeling is one of the most uncomfortable. Your eye is dry and you have a feeling that an unnatural substance is in your eye. If your eyes are feeling itchy, avoid rubbing them at all costs because it will prolong the inflammation and the symptoms will probably get worse.
  • Inflammation: bloodshot and swollen eyes might resemble the symptoms of severe allergy but it can also mean that you’ve burned your eye or eyelid. The inflammation will disappear after a few days.

It is important to recognize these symptoms in time so you can take the right steps to make your recovery easier. 

If you experience some of the symptoms, use a cool compress when your eyes are closed to ease the pain or irritation. Keep your eyes clean and avoid swimming in salt water or chlorinated water. Get eye drops that will kickstart the healing process. 


How Can I Protect My Eyes From The Sun?

The great thing is that these damages are preventable. Sun damage to your eyes is a serious matter but it doesn’t mean that you need to lock yourself in a dark castle while others have fun on the beach. UV lights will reach you no matter what. But there is a simple solution to that.

A great pair of sunglasses with UV protection are enough to keep you protected from sun damage. Wear sunglasses that block 99-100% of UV rays. Wrap-around style sunglasses offer the best protection. Remember that sunglasses are not just an accessory or a fashion statement, they are here to keep your eyesight intact. You can browse our large collection of sunglasses and find the ones that match your style and vibe. 

Combine sunglasses with hats or sun shade umbrella, and sunscreen and you are good to go. Make sure to avoid going out during the hottest parts of the day. Prevention is the key and great eyewear will give you a perfect blend of style and sun protection. 

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