The same warm sunlight that illuminates our world also has the power to end our ability to see the colors, landscapes and smiles it so gloriously brightens.

Invisible ultraviolet rays carry the sun’s destructive force into our field of vision. An unprotected eye viewing the source of this concentrated radiation will suffer serious and often lasting damage. Below, the experienced eye care professionals of Clarity Eye Group discuss the danger, and what you can do to reduce your risk.

Star Power

Sun damage to the eyes is more often cumulative, rather than caused by a single instance of staring directly at the sun. Armed with scissors and a cardboard box, most of us learned in elementary school about the destructive power of our planet’s star, and how to shield our eyes when viewing an eclipse. But many of us forget the importance of protecting the eyes on a daily basis.

The consequences of subjecting the eyes to years of unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays can be severe. Long-term exposure to the sun can cause cataracts; macular degeneration, which often leads to total loss of vision; pterygium, a type of growth on the eye; and photokeratitis, which is essentially a sunburn on the eye.

To fully protect your vision, you need to shield your eyes from the two types of ultraviolet light, UV-A and UV-B. Your cornea and lens filter out much of the harmful UV-B radiation, but the amount that does penetrate the eye is very damaging to an area of the retina known as the macula. Your retina receives much more UV-A radiation, and its cumulative effect is significant.

Cool Solutions

Protective eyewear is your best defense against these risks. Fortunately, when it comes to shielding your eyes from the sun, you can be cool and square at the same time — fashionable in your frames and sensible in your determination to preserve clear vision for a lifetime.

But don’t rely on cheap sunglasses to protect your eyes. Most of the inexpensive varieties block only part of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Meanwhile, they trick you — and your eyes — into thinking that you are wearing adequate protection. The darker lenses of the sunglasses reduce visible light, and in response your pupils dilate. In doing so, they are allowing a higher intensity of ultraviolet light to enter and begin damaging the retina.

For optimal protection, look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UV-B and UV-A ultraviolet rays. If the label includes a UV 400 notation, that is a sign that the product offers complete blockage of ultraviolet light.

Because much of the ultraviolet light reaching your eye is reflected off the inner surface of the lenses or penetrates through the side, wraparound or large, snug-fitting sunglasses are ideal. Some types of sunglasses feature anti-reflective coatings for the inner lenses. Polarized lenses are also a prudent investment, as these lenses almost always provide full protection from damaging rays.

To learn more about ways to protect your eyes and ensure clear vision for a lifetime, schedule your appointment at our Huntington Beach office with Clarity Eye Group today.