At Space Center Eye Associates, our Clear Lake optometrists offer many options for preventing eye damage from sun exposure. Sun exposure is just as serious for your eyes as it is for the skin. While the effect of UV rays on skin gets significant press coverage, sunlight damage on eyes is not as well known to the public. The fact is: the sun’s UV radiation can contribute to short and long-term vision problems if you go out without proper sun protection.
Sunlight Damage on Eyes
In the Houston area, most days are sunny and bright. That creates a pleasant atmosphere for a living but also makes preventing eye damage from the sun’s UV rays a challenge. Even on cloudy days, however, you need sun protection for your eyes. Preventing eye damage from the sun must become a habit because exposure adds up throughout your lifetime.
Over time, UVA and UVB radiation gradually contribute to eye diseases like cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancer. In the short term, sun exposure can cause a type of “sunburn” of your corneas, called photokeratitis (or ultraviolet keratitis). Snow blindness is a type of photokeratitis, caused by sunlight reflected from snow. Reflected light or glare can be more harmful than direct sunlight.
Preventing Eye Damage from the Sun
- UV blocking contact lenses – Our optometrists can fit you with contacts that offer UV protection, but you should also wear sunglasses and a hat in direct sunlight. That’s because UV contacts typically do not cover the entire eye, just the pupil, and iris (colored area of your eye). Ideally, you should wear wrap-around sunglasses over your contacts, to protect eyes from reflected light in your everyday environment, from car windshields, store windows, light colored sidewalks and more. This reflected sunlight often hits at odd angles and may reach your eyes from the side, above or below regular sunglasses. Our optometrist can fit you with either Class I or Class II UV contact lenses, depending upon your specific needs.
- Class I UV contact lenses are best in reflected UV light conditions, like ski slopes or beach areas. These contacts block 99 percent of harmful UV radiation.
- Class II UV blocking contacts are good in normal direct sunlight and they block 70 percent of UVA and 95 percent of UVB radiation.
- Prescription Sunglasses – If you prefer, our Clear Lake optometrist can fit you with a pair of prescription sunglasses to wear instead of your regular eyeglasses when you’re in the sun. (Some patients like to have prescription sunglasses as a backup, even if they normally wear contacts.)
- We also offer sun protection options like eyeglasses with photochromic “transition” lenses that get darker in the sun and lighter indoors.
- You may want to consider polarized prescription sunglasses. Polarized lenses allow only vertical light rays to pass through, blocking most horizontal rays, which helps eliminate reflective glare.
- Another option is clip-on or magnetic sunglasses to transform your regular eyeglasses into sunglasses when needed.
Learn about Sun Protection Options for Your Eyes at Our Optometrist in Clear Lake, TX
Our Houston area optometrist can provide a comprehensive eye exam and advise you on UV protection with contact lenses or prescription sunglasses. Contact Space Center Eye Associates at 281-480-1002.