Ultra Violet light or UV is found in the sunlight and is invisible to the human eye. Most of the UV light is shielded from us by the Ozone Layer but a small portion gets through. Some of the UV is good for us and helps with making Vitamin D in our skin, but too much is also harmful and can cause skin damage and sometimes skin cancer. Most of us are aware of this issue so we protect our skin with sun cream or moisturiser with SPF value, however we are less aware of the relationship with our eyes. This part of the body is just as exposed as our skin but we don’t think about it.
UV light causes the eye to age at a faster rate and can accelerate the formation of cataracts, macular degeneration and fatty deposits on the white of the eyes that can lead to dry eyes.
Most of us generally assume that UV is only evident on sunny days, but we are exposed to UV everyday despite the weather, even on cloudy days.
15% of the UV is reflected off the tarmac into our eyes and this doubles to 30% off water and 80% on snow. The peak time for UV exposure in the summer is surprisingly at 8-9 o/clock in the morning and around 6 o’clock in the evening. In the winter, peak exposure is midday.
New research suggests that the most vulnerable time for eyes regarding UV is childhood up to the age of 18. It is therefore important that this age group protects the eyes as much as they can as the lens in a youthful eye is a lot more transparent and this diminishes as we age. But it is still important for us all , at any age, to make sure that the eye and the eye area is protected as much as possible. The best method is with a good quality pair of sunglasses with 100% UV protection and a hat. If you are a spectacle wearer and do not wish to use sunglasses, Transitions lenses can be a helpful compromise as they react when there is UV exposure. Hats alone offer 50% UV protection. A combination of the two is best.