Contact lenses and UV radiation

Contact lenses and UV radiationProblems caused by the suns UV rays seem to be common knowledge but it turns out this knowledge is limited to the skin and most people are unaware how damaging ultraviolet light can be to most of the tissues of the eye. What's more, we usually think about protecting our eyes against UV radiation only in spring and summer, when the weather is hot and we spend more time outdoors. However, UV light affects our eyes all year round and we should really be wearing UV-blocking contact lenses or glasses irrespective of the season.

Risk posed by UV light to your eyes

UV light can slowly damage many tissues within the eye. It can cause such diseases as cataracts, keratitis, macular degeneration (which is one of the most common causes of permanent blindness), photokeratitis, pterygium and in extreme cases, cancer. Most of these conditions develop slowly and often people do not notice until they are quite advanced. Fortunately, people wearing vision correction in the form of contact lenses are partially protected against UV radiation, as practically all modern contacts block UV light quite effectively (American Optometric Association recommends those that block 95% of UV-A and 99% of UV-B radiation).

How to protect your eyes against UV radiation

  • As a contact lens wearer you should wear sunglasses whenever it is convenient but you should also check if your brand of contact lenses offers UV protection and to what level. If not or your brand does not offer a high enough level of UV blocking protection and you spend a lot of time outside, then you should consider switching to a brand that does, if sunglasses are not an option.
  • When choosing sunglasses, look for something light and durable (and of course cool), but remember to put the most emphasis on the quality of the lenses. The lenses need to block both UVA and UVB light. Also polarising lenses will help give you a clearer and less dazzling image of the world.
  • If you also wear glasses, you have the option of purchasing prescription sunglasses, which provide both UV protection and vision correction.
  • Apart from sunglasses and/or contact lenses to protect your eyes there are also hats. So ideally wear a wide brim hat or a cap when outdoors.
  • Parents should start protecting their children's eyesight as soon as possible. Since kids are often outside and especially exposed to harmful UV rays, get them in hats and sunglasses as soon as they will let you.

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