UV and Eye Damage

It is getting warmer and brighter – summer is on the way! Did you know that UV levels are at their highest from mid-August to the end of April in Victoria?  We often associate UV light with bright sunny days but it’s actually present throughout out the year.

You can check the UV forecast for your location on the free SunSmart app: https://www.sunsmart.com.au/tools/interactive-tools/free-sunsmart-app 

Its recommended that you wear UV protection when the levels are 3 and above.

What is UV radiation?  

Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is energy from the sun that can cause skin and eye damage.  We’re not only exposed to UV radiation directly from the sun but also from its reflection off surfaces like sand, water, snow and even cars. UV radiation can’t be seen or felt, and it varies in intensity throughout out the year; you can still get sun burnt on cool or cloudy days!  As Australians, we are experiencing some of the highest levels of UV radiation from the world and prolonged exposure can cause damage.   Children are particularly sensitive to UV damage and it’s estimated that most of UV exposure is done during the first 18 years of life.  Skin cancer or melanoma is the most common cancer in young Australian aged 23-24 years.  

How do UV radiation affect our eyes? 

Short term problems including:

  • Mild irritation
  • Redness or inflammation
  • Excessive blinking
  • Increased sensitivity to light

 Long term and permanent eye damage including:

  • Cancer of the eyes and skin cancer around the eyes and eyelids
  • Cataracts 
  • Macular degeneration
  • Pterygium (overgrowth of the membrane covering the white part of the eye)
  • Cornea damage 

How to protect our eyes from UV light? 

  • Wear sun protection 
  • Broad-brim hat (can help reduce UV radiation to the eyes by 50%) 
  • Sunglasses that meet the Australian Standards (wearing a hat and sunglasses can reduce UV rays to the eyes by up to 98%)
  • Avoid deliberate and extended sun exposure
  • Having regular eye tests to detect and prevent eye diseases that are caused by UV radiation

https://www.sunsmart.com.au/protect-your-skin/slide-on-sunglasses 

https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/blog/spring-harmful-uv-rays/ 

https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/principals/spag/health/Pages/sun.aspx 

 

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