Protecting eyes from the sun’s harmful UV Rays

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 8:22 AM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The sun is finally getting higher in the sky, but with the sunshine comes possible damage to not only the skin but also the eyes.

The sun emits three different types of UV damage, the rays which cause sunburns and the skin to darken are called UVB rays. Dr. Erin Barrett, a local Optometrist at Vivid Vision Care, said UVB rays can also cause extensive damage to the front of the eye. She explained UVB rays can cause scar tissue to form on the whites of the eyes, cornea, and a sunburn to the eye itself. These effects can lead to astigmatism and blurred vision.

While UVB rays can’t penetrate past the cornea, UVA rays can pass through the cornea and be absorbed by the lens of the eye. Dr. Barrett said this type of sun exposure can lead to cataracts, but the sun’s damage to the eyes doesn’t stop there. Dr. Barrett explained some UVA rays can get as far back in the eyes as the retina and lead to Macular Degeneration or vision loss.

Dr. Barrett said protection begins with a comprehensive eye exam but also investing in good quality sunglasses. Ashley Freeborn, the owner of Aspire Optical company, said when picking out your next pair of sunglasses, go with sunglass brands you know. While sunglasses can be pricy, Freeborn said you get what you pay for when it comes to protecting your eyes.

Dr. Barrett and Freeborn emphasized the importance of protecting children’s eyes from the sun this summer. Freeborn said the bulk of sun damage to the eyes is done before the age of 10. To combat this, he suggests parents start treating sunglasses like they do sunscreen: putting them on when outside for periods of time.

“82% of parents are lathering their kids in sunscreen before they go outside,” explained Freeborn, “But only 17% of kids are wearing sunglasses.”

Freeborn added it’s important parents get in the mindset of combining sunglasses and sunscreen. He says by doing this, parents could prevent or delay possible sun damage to their children’s eyes later in life.

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