Summer is upon us, and the long hours of daylight act as a reminder of the importance of UV protection for our eyes.

Most people are in the habit of applying sunscreen while outdoors, yet protecting our eyes from the harmful effects of UV is often forgotten. Excessive acute amounts of UV can lead to photokeratitis, or sunburn, to the important corneal structure at the front of the eye. Furthermore, cumulative exposure to UV over a lifetime can increase the risk of cataracts or macular degeneration as we age. Finally, certain types of skin cancers are commonly found around the eyes and eyelids due to chronic sun exposure.

So what can you do to protect your eyes?

Invest in a pair of quality sunglasses

  • Ensure the lenses block out 99-100% of UV-A and UV-B light
  • Are large enough, or have a wrapped curve around the face to block out as much light as possible from all directions
  • Any colour of lens will work, however, grey is preferred for proper colour recognition

Wear wide brimmed hats while outdoors

Ensure your contact lens brand is one that provides UV protection (not all contacts do!)

  • New Acuvue®Oasys with Transitions™ lenses incorporates light-intelligent technology to adapt seamlessly to all light levels. Click here for more information: https://www.acuvue.ca/contact-lenses/acuvue-oasys-transitions
  • Remember, contact lenses still don’t shield the entire eye from UV, so sunglasses are still recommended to protect the delicate skin around the eyes

UV risk is the greatest when the sun is high in the sky, from 10am-2pm, and greater at higher altitudes. This exposure can double when UV rays are reflected by snow, which is why skiers are more prone to symptoms of photokeratitis when forgetting to wear goggles. Those that enjoy Calgary’s beautiful backyard, the Rocky Mountains, need to be extra cautious of these risks.

Before the age of eighteen, we are exposed to roughly 80% of our lifetime UV1. So it’s also important to also remember UV protection for your children!

Your Optometrist can recommend a variety of options to ensure your eyes are safe while making the most of our short summer months!

Thieden, E., et. al. (2004) Proportion of Lifetime UV Dose Received by Children, Teenagers, and Adults based on Time-Stamped Personal Dosimetry. J. Invest. Dermatol. 123 (6), p 1147-1150. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15320583