Can the sun damage my eyes?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

By: Todd Sieloff, ABOC, COA, NCLEC

Longer days and the warming rays of sunshine are a welcome reprieve from a lengthy cold winter.  Many people are unaware of the potential for eye complications by enjoying these sunnier days.  If you have ever had sunburn, you have experienced the result of UV radiation to your skin. Recently, much attention has been given to the risk of UV exposure and skin cancer, but you should also be aware that UV poses increased risk of causing eye damage. UV radiation increases your risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, lesions on the eye’s surface, and cancer.  


UV radiation most notably comes from sun exposure during outdoor activities in summer and winter, but can come from artificial sources such as tanning beds, too. The best way to enjoy these activities and limit your risk is to take some simple precautions you are already familiar with.


  • Wear protective sunglasses when outside, even on cloudy days, or in tanning beds.  The ability to protect the eyes from UV radiation with a pair of sunglasses with 100% UV blocking ability will minimize your risk of developing complications, and can make you more comfortable from the glare off the surface of roadways, water, or snow. Wrap around styles help by blocking light coming from the sides and offer an additional level of protection.
  • Wear a hat. The protection offered by hats, particularly those with a wide brim, will keep the sun off of your face and block light from above.
  • Some contact lenses might have a UV inhibiter, but they are not a substitute for sunglasses.

There are a multitude of options available in sunglasses – from the most basic protection, to special purpose, such as a pair of polarized lenses. Protecting your eyes from UV radiation and choosing safe sunglasses has really never been easier or more fashionable!

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.