- Article to the Packrat submitted by Ron Moore, 1995.
Federal government scientists are predicting near-record thinning of the ozone layer this year, meaning an increased risk of cataracts and other eye problems, skin cancer and other health effects. The amount of UV (or ultraviolet radiation) reaching the earth is expected to be between six and ten percent higher than normal across the country.
Now, more than ever, it is important to take care to:
Wear sunglasses that provide the following:
- proper UV protection (they should block out 99 to 100 % of both UV-A and UV-B);
- lenses that are large enough to protect your eyes from light and UV;
- lenses that are free of distortions and perfectly matched in colour;
- comfortably fitting frames that do not block side vision.
Wear sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 or more, and be sure to reapply
it frequently, according to directions;
Spend less time in the sun at midday;
- Wear a hat, long sleeves and long pants along with your sunglasses when you do venture outdoors at midday.
Do not forget to wear your sunglasses on bright, cloudy days as well as sunny ones. Clouds do not block out UV radiation.
Everyone benefits from wearing UV absorbing vision protection. Protection from UV is a must if you fit into any of the following categories:
You work outdoors or spend a lot of your leisure time outdoors (particularly between the
hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM);
You work or play near water, snow or sand. UV is reflected off these surfaces. Even cement
You live at high altitudes;
You are on medications or using products such as: tranquilizers, diuretics,
antihypertensives, artificial sweeteners, N.S.A.I.D.s, oral contraceptives, anti-fungals,
sulfa-containing drugs. Check with your optometrist, pharmacist or physician to see if the
medication you take causes increased sensitivity to UV;
You have fair skin and blue eyes;
You have had cataracts removed from your eyes;
You use sun lamps or tanning lotions;
- There is a history of retinal degeneration in your family.
The ABC’s of UVUV has no value to vision and is harmful to every part of the eye that absorbs it.
UV, or ultraviolet radiation, is a part of the sun’s energy. While the sun sustains all life on earth, some forms of this energy can be harmful to life. It’s ultraviolet rays, which cannot be seen by the naked eye, can cause damage to unprotected eyes and skin.
There are three types of UV:
from the sun does not pose a threat to vision, since all of it is absorbed in the ozone layer (the thin layer of gases that surround the earth). However, UV-C from man-made sources, like electric welding arcs, is harmful to the eyes if proper protection is not used.
UV-A and UV-B are the rays to avoid. The ozone layer does not absorb all UV-A and UV-B radiation. More and more, studies are showing that exposure to both UV-A and UV-B can cause short and long term damage to your eyes.
is the weakest form of all ultraviolet. It tans the skin, causes skin aging, wrinkles and is suspected to contribute to cataracts (a permanent clouding of the eye which reduces vision). It accelerates aging of the retina, causing a condition known as age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), which is a leading cause of vision loss and legal blindness among Canadians over 60 years of age. UV-A also damages outdoor plastics and paint.
which is stronger than UV-A, is the most harmful. It burns the skin and is known to be a cause of skin cancer. It is mostly absorbed by the eye’s cornea (the transparent layer at the front of the eye). Short term exposure to UV-B can cause a sunburn of the cornea (also known as ‘welder’s flash” or “snow blindness”). Long term exposure can lead to cataracts.
Don’t forget your shades in Winter!
Though many people think of sunglasses as a summer accessory, it is important for you to wear your sunglasses in winter too. Ultraviolet radiation is harmful to your eyes, no matter the time of year. In winter, UV is reflected off the snow, as well as beamed directly from the sun!
Be sure to see your optometrist once a year for a thorough eye examination. It is the best way to ensure eye and vision health, and to keep track of your UV protection needs.
Did you know....
A 1 % decrease on the ozone layer results in a 1.1 to 1.4 % increase of UV-B