How UV rays can reach our eyes
Direct exposure to sunlight
Reflected UV rays from
Water, snow (both significantly increases exposure)
Sand and concrete
Grass increase exposure to a certain extent
Clouds reflect and scatter light also
The angle of the sun to our eyes at the start and end of the day means more UV light can be absorbed by ocular tissue at these times than in the middle of the day.
Five steps to protect your eyes (tips from the optometry association)
1. Make sure you protect your eyes from UV, even on days you don’t think the sun’s rays may be as damaging e.g. when it’s overcast.
2. Limit exposure to UV as much as possible
3. Wear a broad brimmed hat as it can reduce the amount of UV reaching your eyes by 50%
4. For outdoor sports, sunglasses or UV blocking contact lenses should be considered.
5. Always use UV blocking lenses as well as another form of protection e.g. staying in shade or wearing a hat and sunscreen while outdoors.
Even relatively short bursts of exposure to UV can cause sore, red or irritated eyes. Other conditions that can arise from UV damage include hypersensitivity to light, pterygium, cancer of the eye lids and front surface of the eye, cataracts and macular complications. Ocular damage accumulates over time and it still adds up even if individual episodes aren’t particularly long.
It’s important to be aware that we are all vulnerable to damage from the sun and to protect our eyes from the UV rays it emits. Make UV protection part of your daily routine, all year round.