Many people know that exposure to the sun, especially at the height of summer, can damage their skin. But they don’t realise that extended exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can also increase the risk of developing eye problems.
CUMULATIVE DAMAGE: Studies have shown that the effects of UV radiation are cumulative and may increase the chance of developing eye problems later in life, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), two leading causes of reduced vision in people over the age of 55. In the UK, over 600,000 people suffer from AMD and cases of the disease are expected to increase by a quarter in the next 10 years.
IRREVERSIBLE: Short-term damage to the eyes is hard to notice, but over the long-term, the sun can cause irreversible harm to all structures of the eye and surrounding tissue that are left unprotected or under-protected. These conditions may not manifest for years at which point the damage is already done and it is too late to reverse the effects of the sun. That’s why it is important to start protecting eyes from childhood.
CHILDREN & TEENS AT GREATER RISK THAN ADULTS: Younger eyes are more susceptible to exposure to the sun’s harmful rays than adults. Children have larger pupils (allowing more light into their eyes), clearer lenses, and are outside without eye protection much more frequently and for longer periods than most adults. It is estimated that 80 percent of lifetime exposure to UV occurs by age 18 and that children’s annual dose of UV radiation is three times that of adults.
GREATER EXPOSURE TIMES IN EARLY AM, LATER AFTERNOON: Research conducted in Japan found that, UV exposure to the eye during early morning and late afternoon during spring, summer and autumn was approximately double that of the mid-morning/early afternoon period that is most often thought of as peak sun exposure time.
SUNGLASSES ALONE ARE NOT ENOUGH: While most sunglasses can help block UV rays from entering through the lenses, most frame styles do not prevent rays from reaching the eyes from the sides, top, and bottom of the glasses. Hats with brims offer no protection from UV rays reflected up from surfaces such as pavement, sand, and water.
WINTER SUN CAN BE DAMAGING TO EYES: Exposure to UV rays during winter can temporarily harm the eyes as well as increase the risk of developing sun-related eye disorders. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), while UV radiation is generally lower during winter months, snow reflection may double an individual’s overall exposure. The WHO advises that fresh snow may reflect as much as 80 percent of UV rays.WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT UV BLOCKING CONTACT LENESES: Not all contact lenses offer UV protection, and, of those that do, not all provide similar absorption levels. ACUVUE® is the only major brand of contact lenses which blocks more than 98% of UVB and 85% of UVA rays as standard across the entire range of its products. ACUVUE® OASYS® Brand Contact lenses offer the highest level of UV protection available in a reusable contact lens, blocking more than 99 percent of UVB rays and 96 percent of UVA rays that reach the lens. For those who prefer the option of a daily disposable contact lens,1-DAY ACUVUE® TruEye Brand Contact Lenses offer the highest level of UV blocking available, blocking more than 90 percent of UV-A rays and 99 percent of UV-B rays that reach the lens. On average, contact lenses without UV-blocking capability allow 90% of UV-A radiation and 70% of UV-B radiation to pass through the lenses to your eyes.
ACHIEVING A SIGNIFICANT MEASURE OF UV PROTECTION: UV absorbing contact lenses are not substitutes for devices like UV-blocking sunglasses as they do not completely cover the eye or the surrounding area. For maximum protection, UV-blocking contact lenses should be worn in conjunction with high-quality UV-blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.
Information supplied by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care