Visit any grocery store or pharmacy, and you’re bound to find shelves and shelves of different products that work to protect your body from UV rays. From lotions, to creams, and yes, even umbrellas – the long list of items you could use to shield your skin from UV rays is close to endless. No doubt, people have long recognized the dangers that UV rays threaten our skin with, but did you know that our eyes are subject to the same onslaught?

Your eyes are just as sensitive as your skin which is why it’s necessary to make sure that your eyes get the same (if not more) protection. Now more than ever, it’s important to use the appropriate products to ensure the safety of your eyes.

Wondering just what those UV rays might do to your eyes in the long run? This short list just might surprise you.

Cataracts

There is a clear lens that envelopes your eyes which is responsible for focusing your vision whenever you set your sight on an object in the environment. Without this lens, everything around you might end up looking like a blur. When you expose this thin film to harmful UV rays, you risk the development of cataracts – a condition which clouds the lens and causes blindness if untreated. Luckily, there are medications and treatments that can remove cataracts, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your eyes unguarded.

Macular Degeneration

Acknowledged as the leading cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 50, this particular condition happens when the macula – a small structure at the back of the retina – becomes exposed to UV rays. Wearing protective eyewear on a daily basis can help prevent macular degeneration.

Eyelid Cancer

Cancer of the eyelid is a very real threat, and UV rays are mainly responsible for this complicated condition. There are lots of different manifestations, but among the most common are chronic infection, swelling, inflammation, and development of a mass or lump in the skin around the eyes.

Keratitis

Otherwise known as corneal sunburn, keratitis develops as a consequence of constant exposure to UV rays. This is because the cornea is mainly responsible for managing the light that enters the eye and functions to shield the other structures from harmful UV rays. The increased exposure to harmful light becomes damaging to the cornea, causing it to develop irritation and sunburn.

Visit your optometrist and schedule an eye exam to discuss the different options out there to minimize the risks of UV damage to your eyes. From protective eyewear and sunglasses to preventative measures to catch the signs of cataracts and macular degeneration early, there are many things your optometrist can do to keep your eyes safe.

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