In our last post, we highlighted an initiative called Don’t Fry Day as a way to bring attention to the importance of protecting both eyes and skin from harmful UV rays. But just what are these UV rays we hear so much about and just what damage can they do? According to The UV Learning Center from Prevent Blindness America, there are two types of UV rays:
- UV-A rays can hurt central vision because they damage the macula – the part of the retina at the back of the eye.
- UV-B rays are absorbed by the front part of the eye (the cornea and lens). These rays can be more damaging than UV-A rays.
Damage from UV rays typically isn’t immediate but rather develops over time. And the more time you expose your eyes to UV rays the worse the damage. Eye problems caused by UV rays include:
- Macular degeneration affects the back part of the eye called the macula (the central part of the retina).
- Pterygium, a growth that begins on the white of the eye and may involve the cornea. Over time the growth may block vision.
- Skin cancer around the eyelids.
- Corneal sunburn after high short-term exposure to UV-B rays (think many hours at the beach without sun protection). This is painful condition and can cause temporary vision loss.