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The dangers of UV-radiation and protecting your eyes

We have already addressed some facts about UV and why UV-rays are so damaging to your eyes. We all know we can get a nasty sunburn if we don’t protect our skin from the sun. But what about your eyes? In  a recent article about kids sunglasses, we’ve addressed the need for proper UV protection. The Dutch Eye Fund strongly advises to protect your eyes from the sun, because scientific research has shown that long-term exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of cataract and macular degeneration, both are only visible at a later age so no immediate effects are noticeable at first!

When should you be wearing a pair of sunglasses?

In the Netherlands, UV radiation is lower than in other countries, say around the equator. For example, countries in southern Europe have a higher degree of UV radiation than in The Netherlands. The Dutch Eye Fund advises to at least wear sunglasses in the summer between 12 am and 3 pm. UV Radiation reflects on sand, water and snow and the intensity increases at higher altitudes when you are climbing a mountain, or when you are shredding down the slopes. We also advise you to leave a spare pair of sunglasses in your car, in case the sun peaks through.

How often does UV radiation cause visual impairment?

In a recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that 20% of all cases of cataract are caused by overexposure to UV radiation and can therefore be prevented by proper protection against the sun. Cataract often appears at an old age. It affects vision and it is stated that at least half of the population either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. In short, it means that the lens in your eye starts to diminish and becomes cloudy.

I never wear any sunglasses, why would I need them?

We often hear the words “I don’t like wearing glasses”, said by the person squinting when it is summer and they are trying to keep their composure. The effects of UV radiation on the coernea are usually not immediately visible, but that doesn’t mean UV doesn’t affect your eyes in the long term. It is therefore important to take good care of your eyes from an early age, just like preventing sun burn! In case of snow blindness, your cornea will become inflamed and you will notice the effects of heavy burning within a few hours. Not good!

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