5 Eye Health Dangers Caused By UV Radiation

16 September 2014
 Categories: , Blog


Too much of anything can be harmful to your health, including sunlight. Overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause a variety of eye problems. Most of these UV-related eye problems occur gradually over many years of repeated UV exposure. Being aware of the potential dangers of UV radiation can help you properly protect your eyes. Check out these eye health dangers caused by frequent exposure to UV rays.

1. Cataracts

Cataracts are a form of eye damage that results in a clouding of the lens in the eyes that affect vision. If left untreated, cataracts can lead to permanent blindness. While most cataracts are related to aging, radiation cataracts can develop after exposure to UV rays. Ultraviolet radiation is absorbed by the eyes and can cause a formation of free radicals inside the lens. As the free radicals damage the lens, cataracts can develop.

2. Corneal Sunburn

The cornea is the clear window of tissue in front of the eye that protects deeper structures by acting like a windshield. This area of the eye can become easily damaged by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Corneal damage caused by a corneal sunburn or flash burn can cause pain, changes in vision, or a complete loss of vision.

3. Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the breakdown of the central portion of the retina referred to as the macula. Ultraviolet light contributes to a buildup of free radicals in the macula which are the root cause of macular degeneration.  UV rays can damage retinal tissues which can lead to vision loss or blindness

4. Skin Cancer

Many skin cancers are a direct result of exposure to UV rays in sunlight. Both squamous cell and basal cell cancers are often found on sun-exposed areas of the body, including the skin around the eyes. Melanoma of the eye has also been linked to sun exposure, according to the American Cancer Society. Ultraviolet A and B light are responsible for eyelid cancers and other types of skin cancer.

5. Pterygium

Pterygium is a type of growth that develops on the mucous membrane of conjunctiva that covers the white area of the eye. Although non-cancerous, these growths can result in blurred vision, eye redness, and minor irritation.  While the exact cause of pterygium is unknown, the growths are more common in people who have a lot of exposure to sunlight and wind, according to MedlinePlus. In some cases, pterygium can extend to the cornea.

Sunlight can harm the eyes in a variety of ways if proper precautions are not used to protect your vision. Prescription eyeglasses featuring UV protection can make a significant difference in the health of your eyes. For more information about getting eyeglasses with a UV coating, contact Crown Opticians.