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Vision Damage from UV UVA and UVB Radiation

What is meant by the letter abbreviations UV, UVA and UVB?


The letter abbreviation UV represent the Ultraviolet sunlight/rays or solar energy (radiation) produced by the process of changing hydrogen into helium using extreme pressure in the core of the Sun (known as nuclear fusion). Solar energy (UV rays) is transported from the core to the photosphere (outer surface of the Sun) and released into space. Ultraviolet rays released from the Sun take approximately eight minutes to reach the Earth.

Two other terms referring to ultraviolet rays is UVA and UVB. The only difference between UVA and UVB rays is the change in the level of intensity of the ultraviolet rays. UVA is the form of solar energy that remains at a constant level throughout the year and UVB rays refer to the ultraviolet rays that change strength during different times of the year. UVB rays increase in strength during the summertime (The time when the Sun is closes to the Earth) and decrees during the winter months due to the orbital path of the Earth. The strength of the ultraviolet rays can reach a level three times greater in the summer months than in the winter.

**UVA rays are the type of ultraviolet rays used in tanning beds.


What forms of vision damage or disorders does exposure to ultraviolet rays cause?


The surface of the eyes exposed to sunlight can develop the identical symptoms as the skin (sunburn). The surface (cornea) of the eye can burn as well as the lenses of the eyes. In most cases, a burn from the sun on the surface of the eye heals in the same manner as the skin (usually heals in a few days). The issue becomes one similar to the skin where later in life the damage from sunburns builds up on the surface of the eye contributing to the development of eye disorders such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and other damage to internal structures of the eye leading to vision loss or blindness.
Studies reveal that the damage from ultraviolet rays is more extreme on the unprotected eyes of children. The ultraviolet rays have the capability of penetrating deeper into young developing eyes causing surface and internal damage.

Reflective ultraviolet rays (sunlight) are a form of exposure, which can cause the most extreme vision damage in a short time. Ultraviolet rays of the sun intensify when reflected off other surfaces such as snow, water, sand, payment and reflective treated windows


What are the steps to Prevent Vision Damage from Ultraviolet Rays from the Sun?

1. Always, use 100% protective eyewear such as sunglasses that block 100% of the UVA/UVB rays when exposed to sunlight or using a tanning bed. Eyewear protection is especially important for children of all ages because of the ability of radiation to penetrate deeply into a young developing eye. When selecting sunglasses take care to make sure, the glasses provide protection along the right and left sides of the eyes. The sunglasses should provide protection when the sun shines directly onto the right and left sides of the face.

2. Wear a large brimmed hat while outside. The brim of the hat should completely cover the exposed areas of the face(Note: Take care to make sure the right and left sides of the eyes receive protection when the rays of the sun shine directly onto the right and left sides of the face.

3. A person who wears prescription lenses that darken when exposed to sunlight should be tested to make sure 100% blockage is provided from the sun. A quick easy test is available from eyewear providers that will make sure the eyes are 100% protected. Sunglasses should also receive a UVA/UVB screening.

If your plans include “fun in the sun” then make sure you protect your vision.

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