Why & how to protect your eyes in the sun

This week we have been lucky enough to have some beautiful sunny weather and it is set to stay for the weekend. While many people know that keeping their skin protected from the sun is important, we may forget about how important it is to protect our eyes in the sun, too.

The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) light, which is harmful to our bodies and our delicate eyes too. The sun’s UV rays can damage our eyes in many ways if they are not protected.

1. Long term overexposure to the sun’s UV rays may cause photokeratitis (also known as snow blindness), pterygiums (these are benign growths on the surface of the eye) and could attribute to the development of cataracts. It is also suggested that long term overexposure to UV rays may contribute to the development of macular degeneration. This is due to the ‘blue light’ emitted from the solar spectrum. Macular degeneration is one of the top diseases that cause permanent sight loss, but it is a preventable disease, so protecting your eyes when in the sun is essential.

2. Along with protected the eyes themselves from the sun, it is also very important to protect the tissue around the eyes. Eye lid tissue is extremely thin and sensitive and if not protected can be one of the quickest areas of skin to develop skin cancer. By wearing sunglasses and using a good sun protection factor (SPF) sun cream you can help to protect this delicate skin.

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3. Apart from the above damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays, glare from the sun can also cause some unwanted side effects. This can include; making you squint, impairing your vision, and causing watery eyes. These side effects can be especially problematic when driving, so wearing sunglasses can make not only your vision and eyes more comfortable, but also make you safer if driving in sunny weather.

4. Wearing sunglasses is the best and easiest way to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Remember that not all sunglasses are made equal, while fashion sunglasses might look nice, they do not always have the correct protection. When buying sunglasses, you should check that they have the CE kite mark or conform to BSEN 1836: 1997 and are marked with UV 400, and the best sunglasses are ones that are 100% UVA and UVB protected. If you are not sure when buying sunglasses always speak to your optician or eye clinic for advice.

About the expert

Mr Samer Hamada | Consultant Ophthalmologist and Corneal Surgeon

MD, MSc, DO (hons), FRCSEd, FRCOphth I am Samer Hamada, founder and consultant ophthalmic surgeon with over 20 years’ experience in ophthalmology. I am a world-renowned specialist in cornea, cataract and refractive surgery. I’m not only a leading surgeon but also the only dual fellowship trained in corneal diseases in children from reputable institutions in the UK. At Eye Clinic London I work closely with other consultant ophthalmologists, optometrists and orthoptists to achieve the best outcomes for our patients. Our main aim is to make sure our patients get the safest and best treatments available to them. We put your safety before anything else so you can rest assured that if you choose us you will be in the best and safest hands.

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