July 14, 2021
Too much sun can harm your eyes. The same ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can damage your skin can also hurt your eyes. UV radiation damage to the eyes is cumulative, meaning it builds up over your lifetime and can have a permanent effect on your eyes and vision.
As a national leader in eye and vision health for more than 100 years, The University of Kansas Health System provides routine vision exams, leading-edge surgical procedures and comprehensive optometry services.
To learn more about protecting your eyes from sun damage, we visited with optometrist Dirck DeKeyser, OD, at The University of Kansas Health System.
He shared 5 tips for reducing the risk of eye damage caused by the sun.*
Choose sunglasses wisely
Price and lens color don't necessarily matter. Instead, look for sunglasses labeled “UV400” or “100% UV protection.” This will help protect your entire eye from UV rays, something that contact lenses cannot always do. Also make sure to wear sunglasses on cloudy days since rays can still pass through.
Dr. DeKeyser says UV protection is why it is so important to choose wisely when buying sunglasses. “The main thing to look for is UV protection. You want to be sure you’re protecting yourself against those high-energy, burning rays because those are the ones most prone to cause damage to the eye.”
Avoid looking directly at the sun
Even if it doesn’t feel like it hurts, looking at the sun can burn holes in your retina. Damage to the retina can cause the rare but irreversible condition called solar retinopathy, leading to blurry vision or blindness. Your retina is needed for central vision, so taking care of it is vital.
Check your meds
Certain antibiotics, antifungals, birth control, painkillers and other medications can cause photosensitivity, leaving your eyes more exposed to sun damage. Make sure to check your medication/prescription labels for this side effect and take proper precautions like wearing sunglasses in case they do.
Consider a hat
Hats with large brims can lessen exposure to UV rays. This combined with sunglasses can really cut down your risk of eye damage from the sun.
Don’t just rely on car windows
While windshields are relatively effective protecting against UV rays, only 14% of side windows provide proper protection. Wearing sunglasses while driving can help mitigate the risk of eye damage.
Comprehensive eye care
To learn more about the full spectrum of eye care services provided at The University of Kansas Health System, call 913-588-1227.