Too much sun can affect your skin and cause melanomas, but sun rays can also burn your eyes.

According to the Opthalmological Society, studies have shown that, “permanent damage to the eyes can occur when they are not adequately protected from prolonged sun exposure. Reflected light in particular — from water, sand, snow or pavement — can actually produce a burn on the surface of the eye. Frequent exposure over a long period of time can lead to damage of the internal structures of the eye, including the lens and the retina. UV light is also a risk factor for macular degeneration, which leads to loss of central vision, as well as pterygium or a growth that invades the corner of the eyes.”

Here are some interesting facts which emphasize the need to protect our eyes from the sun. Unlike red blood cells which regenerate every day, the cells in the eye cannot. In fact, because the lens cannot repair itself, damage will continue during one’s life.

Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause cataracts. Retinal damage from ultraviolet rays has been known to be highest among children under ten years of age.

The Opthalmological Society goes on to explain that, “you don’t just have to spend a lot of time in the sun to be at increased risk of cataracts. Those people who live at high altitudes as well as those who take photosensitizing drugs or certain antibiotics are also at risk. These drugs can make your eyes as well as your skin more sensitive to sunlight and thus more prone to sun-related damage, including burning and cataract formation.”

It is recommended that you limit the amount of time you spend in the sun, especially if you are taking medication. Wear sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher, wear a large hat to cover your eyes, and wear sunglasses. This is especially true if you are outdoors on a hazy day. The sun’s rays can still penetrate and cause sunburn.

The importance of wearing sunglasses cannot be overstated. The problem is that some people purchase these sunglasses at their corner drugstores. Sunglasses must provide 100% protection from UV rays. Studies show that sunglasses that block the blue light are the safest.

Another point that should also be mentioned is the need to protect the eyes if you choose to visit tanning salons. There is increasing evidence that tanning salons can cause just as much damage to the eyes as regular sunlight, so take every precaution to ensure your eyes are protected from the UV light in these salons.

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