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UV Damage and Your Eyes

What is UV light and how does it damage your eyes?

Ultraviolet (UV) light is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, between visible light and x-rays, which is naturally produced by the sun, it can also be artificially created by some devices like sunbeds.

We all know strong sunlight can cause sunburn, it can also pose a number of health risks to your eyes too. Injuries caused by UV light to the eye can range from flash burns of the cornea to more serious internal damage

UV radiation can cause short-term ocular problems after long days spent outdoors without UV-protective eye-wear in a sunny enviornment, or just an enviornment with ahigh amount of glare such as at sea or a snowy environment.


Commonly referred to as the ‘sunburn of the eye‘, Photokeratitis is a swelling or inflammation of the cornea, which is the clear front covering of the eye. One can experience many symptoms such as, redness, blurred vision, tearing, light sensitivity, or general pain of the eyes. This can result from a day at the beach or on the slopes and is usually a consequence of not wearing proper protection from the sun (i.e., sunglasses or a hat). It is also commonly referred to as snow blindness. Photokeratitis can also be seen in welders, as welding gives off artificially created UV light.

Long term exposure to UV light can lead to other serious ocular problems too;


A white tissue growth that extends from white part of the eye onto the cornea and grows with sun repeated sun exposure. Typically starts on the cornea near the nose, it can be remove with surgery if it is affecting vision but reoccurs in about half of cases. Symptoms include persistent redness, inflammation, foreign body sensation, tearing, dry and itchy eyes and can cause problems for the sufferer.


A Cataract is a clouding or opacification of the cornea. There are several causes, including trauma, birth defect, diabetes, smoking but also Radiation (see our radiation range) and long term UV Sunlight exposure. Cataracts can be fixed with surgery although this is usually done as a last resort.

How do we prevent UV damage to our eyes?

When living or working in sunny environments we should take adequate precautions in wearing a hat, and suitable sunglasses. A cheap pair of sunglasses you pick up in a corner shop may look stylish but may not be protecting your eyes from the above medical problems. In the fight against UV damage you should consider the following factors in your next pair of glasses.

Anti-Reflective Coatings have been proven to reduce reflections from surfaces water or glare from lights, but they can also reduce UV radiation. At Safety Protection Glasses, we offer this coating on all our prescription lenses, regardless if they are sunglasses or not!

The style of your sunglasses can also be a large factor in reducing UV damage. Straight lensed frames let in UV light from the sides, as well as above and below, which is why when you choose sunglasses you should choose a wraparound style.

Mirrored Lenses are lenses that have had a mirror coating applied which reduces the amount of light that penetrates the lenses, these mirrors are often seen on sunglasses and appear in a variety of different colours. At Safety Protection Glasses we can provide mirror coatings on many of our prescription lenses, increasing your protection from UV as well as appearing stylish.

Polarized lenses have a special film either sandwiched between two other layers of the lens or applied to the front of a lens, which eliminates glare off surfaces like wet pavements, roads, water, or snow. These lenses also reduce the amount of UV light reaching your eyes, and are generally only available in sunglasses.

There is UV light on even cloudy days, and not just in the summer, so it is important to protect your eyes all year around, invest in a quality of pair of glasses with features that will really protect your eyes.


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