UV light and eyes facts

  • Cataract, macular degeneration, ptergium, pinguecula, photokeratitis and cancers of the eyelids are linked to UV exposure
  • The highest ultraviolet exposure occurs during light overcast conditions where the horizon is visible and ground surface reflection is high (such as snow covered conditions).
  • In snowy conditions, ultraviolet rays are reflected upward, hitting you from above and below.  Up to 85% of ultraviolet rays may be reflected up into your eyes.
  • Ultraviolet is more damaging at higher altitudes because the air filters out about 4% less radiation for every 1,000 feet above sea level.  At 5,000 feet, a typical elevation forU.S.ski resorts, you are exposed to 20% more ultraviolet radiation.
  • Exposure to ultraviolet in childhood may be more damaging than exposure in adulthood.
  • Outdoor workers frequently are exposed to ultraviolet levels that are above the current safe exposure limits.
  • The risk of all sunlight-related eye diseases can be diminished by use of eye wear that absorbs ultraviolet radiation during exposure to sunlight.
  • Contact lens wearers should additionally wear sunglasses.
  • Certain drugs may make the eyes more sensitive to light.  Be sure to read drug labels and take appropriate precautions.
  • Wearing sunscreen on the face and around the eyes adds another layer of protection against ultraviolet light.
  • It is important to never look directly at the sun, or even to look at reflections of the sun off of water, ice, or snow, as this can directly damage the retina.
  • Intra-ocular lens implants after cataract surgery often include a substantial ultraviolet filter.  Nevertheless, sunglasses will protect the parts of the eye not protected by the implants.
  • Snow reflects more ultraviolet radiation than any other surface.
  • High exposure to ultraviolet can cause a corneal burn within one hour, although symptoms may not appear for six to 12 hours

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