Some people may be aware that UV radiation damage is linked to an increased risk of eye disease or conditions like cataracts or age-related macular degeneration. But in addition to the negative health effects of the sun, general discomfort from the brightness is reason enough for wearing protective sunglasses.
And, those with lighter-coloured eyes, such as blue or green, may find their eyes are more sensitive to the light.
Why Are Blue Eyes More Sensitive to Light?
No one is immune to UV damage or sensitivity to light. But those with lighter-coloured eyes, such as blue, green, or hazel, can be at a disadvantage. The lighter iris is more susceptible to melanoma of the iris or uveal melanoma. Additionally, a lighter iris may result in increased sensitivity to light.
The Importance of Protecting Your Eyes
Most of us have stepped outside on a sunny day and forgotten our sunglasses on the counter, so we’re experienced with the potential discomfort. But it’s important to protect our eyes from the sun—regardless of eye colour.
Cataracts are the clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens. Initially, a cataract typically develops slowly and may not require treatment right away. But eventually, cataract surgery is the only way to restore vision clouded by cataracts.
This procedure removes the cloudy lens from the eye and replaces it with a clear, artificial intraocular lens (IOL). In their early years, IOLs were limited in their technology and did not provide the same UV protection of the eye’s natural lens.
Today, your eye doctor may be able to provide an IOL with UV protection during modern cataract surgery because many IOLs include UV absorption as a standard feature.
Some evidence that suggests those exposed to UV radiation are at an increased risk of developing eye melanoma, a form of cancer that grows in melanin-producing cells throughout the body—including the eyes.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disease that affects your central vision, and it is one of the leading causes of vision loss in older adults. The light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, called the macula, can be damaged during aging.
But age is not the only risk factor for AMD. A study from 2014 demonstrated that long-term exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of developing AMD.
Protecting Your Eyes
Regardless of whether your eyes are blue or dark brown, you should still actively protect them from the sun. Wearing UVA and UVB protective sunglasses is a great way to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays. Here are some additional tips to keep the UV radiation out of your eyes:
- Most prescription glasses lenses are available with UV protection coatings. These make great options when tinted glasses hinder vision.
- Some contact lenses are available with UV protection built into the lens. So, even sitting directly on your eye, the polymer material absorbs UV radiation.
- If you already have a pair of prescription glasses, you may be able to get a pair of clip-on sunglasses that you can take on and off based on your needs. If your prescription lenses have UV protection, a pair of clip-on sunglasses are a great way to prevent discomfort from the sun.
Talk About Protection Options with Eye Care Group
Whether or not you have light-coloured eyes, wearing UV-protective sunglasses and a hat when you’re outdoors can help protect the health of your eyes. Even in the winter or on a day when the sun is hiding behind the clouds, UV radiation still reaches us.
A pair of prescription glasses with blue light coatings and UV-blocking filters can help protect your eyes when the sun is not its brightest.
If you have questions about keeping your eyes protected, reach out to the team at Eye Care Group. Our team is available to answer your questions or schedule a visit with one of our optometrists.