Ultra Violet Awareness Month, observed in May was started by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), for bringing attention to the harmful effects associated with UV rays.

The main motive behind Ultraviolet Awareness Month by the American Academy of Opthalmology is to inform people what ultraviolet rays are and how can they affect our eye health. Since the UV rays are invisible, and our naked eyes can’t watch them, doesn’t mean that they can’t be harmful. It’s very important to know about the damage they can bring to our eyes. In such situations, a pair of sunglasses is also really essential to wear all year long.

Note: Various studies have demonstrated that 20 percent of cataract cases are a result of UV rays. Sadly, this number is rising in recent decades.

As summer gets into full swing, many of us get overexcited about outdoor pursuits. But before you venture into the sun, you must take this opportunity to contemplate why the 5th month (May) of the calendar is designated as ‘Ultraviolet Awareness Month’. It would surely help you understand how to protect yourself as well as your eyes from these harmful radiations.

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can burn up the eye’s cornea and conjunctiva and raise the risk of future eye problems, like cataracts, macular degeneration and an eye disease called epidermoid carcinoma, especially in high-risk patients.

Your eyes can also get yourself a sunburn, known as photokeratitis, which might lead to pain and temporary vision loss!

Some factors may increase your risk of UV-related eye issues, including:

  • With a family history of eye cancer

  • Having light-colored eyes

  • Being part of a job that keeps you outdoors for long periods of time in the summertime

  • Spending around the water without Eye-protection

How To Protect Yourself From UV-Rays?

Protecting your eyes when you’re performing outdoor activities is amongst the simplest and most basic elements of proper eye care. Here are some tips to assist:

  • Make sure to wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays (Polarized sunglasses are a better option). Sunshades that do not protect from UV rays can be more harmful than not wearing protective lenses because they induce your pupils to dilate, allowing even more of the harmful rays in.

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield your head from the sun.

  • Wraparound sunglasses are ideal for protecting the eyes and skin enclosing them.

  • Although a few contact lenses offer protection against UV rays, they don’t protect the entire eye or the skin around the eye, therefore sunglasses are still more preferred.

  • Always use eye protection from tanning beds, which will produce somewhat larger UV levels than the sun.

  • Shades, especially those for kids, need to be made from impact resistant material (polycarbonate) for safe use during outdoor activities.

Additionally, it is crucial to have annual dilated eye exams, particularly adults who are at higher risk for cancer. Factors which increase your risk include fair skin, prolonged sun exposure, tanning bed use, smoking, a genealogy of eye problems (especially cancer), and having light-colored eyes.

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