Ultraviolet Awareness Month - May


Most people are aware that the sun can cause skin cancer, but how many are aware that it can damage the eyes? Cataracts, cancer, corneal sunburn - these are just some of the damaging effects that the sun can have on the health status of your eyes.

“Sunscreen is essential to protect your skin, but a good pair of sunglasses is critical to help protect your eyes,” says Kate Edwards, Friends for Sight’s Executive Director. Be aware of some of the risk factors and possible consequences of UV damage and some ways that you can keep your eyes healthy. 


UV-related eye damage:

· Working long hours outdoors particularly during the greatest risk hours between 10:00 a.m. - 3 p.m. during summer months

· Family history of eye cancer

· Having light-colored eyes

· Spending time at the beach without sunglasses

· Not wearing sunglasses and hats outside, even on cloudy days

· Being around water, sand, snow, and ice without eye protection

Possible consequences of UV exposure:

· Skin cancer around eyelids (UV-A and UV-B radiation)

· Cataracts (cloudy lens in your eye – a leading cause of blindness)

· Photokeratitis (corneal sunburn that can result in temporary vision loss)

· Pterygium (abnormal pink tissue on the white of the eye)

· Age Related Macular Degeneration [AMD] (results in gradual vision loss over time)

Friends for Sight urges you to take control of your vision and protect your eyes from UV radiation by taking some proactive steps:

· Wear sunglasses that block 99-100% UV radiation

· Wear a brim hat that shields the face outdoors

· Get regular eye exams with an eye doctor every 2 years if you are younger than 60 (go every year if over 60)

· Do not smoke (smoking can cause UV radiation damage to progress quicker than with non-smokers)

With Utah’s high elevation, sunny ski slopes, and warm summers everyone should be especially concerned about the effects of sun on their eyes. And don’t forget your children! Choosing unbreakable, well-fitted sunglasses and a hat that shades the face is the best way to provide protection for your young ones.

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