Last Updated: March 18, 2023
While most Canadians recognize the importance of sunscreen to prevent sunburns and skin cancer, many are unaware that UV light can cause serious eye damage. In fact, overexposure to UV rays has been linked to a variety of eye problems, one of which is cataracts, a condition where the normally clear lens of the eye become cloudy and opaque.
With an estimated 3.2 million Canadians living with cataracts1, optometrists are urging residents to book an annual eye exam with a doctor of optometry and take the necessary precautions to protect your vision from the sun’s harmful rays.
How to protect your vision
Avoid sources for UV radiation
Don’t stare directly at the sun and be aware of reflections from snow, water, sand and pavement. If you’re a welder, hairdresser, lighting technician, paint and resin worker, or work outdoors, be sure you’re in the know about potential risks and how to avoid UV exposure.
Protect your peepers
Wear sunglasses that are 100% UV blocking against both UVA and UVB rays, and are close-fitting with a wrap-around style frame to help keep light out. If you wear corrective contact lenses, consider wearing UV-blocking contact lenses for an added layer of UV protection. In addition to cataracts, these steps help protect against:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Eyelid skin cancer
- Corneal sunburn
- Age spots
- Tissue growths on the surface of the eye
Get regular eye exams to monitor eye health, maintain good vision and keep up-to-date on the latest in UV protection.
Keep out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Children are at high risk
It’s estimated that 50% of lifetime exposure to UV happens before the age of 18. Keep children younger than six months out of direct sunlight, ensure children of all ages wear sunglasses and sun hats when outside and consider using a canopy or umbrella as a sun-shield when at the beach or in the back yard.
Recognize the symptoms
If you’re experiencing immediate pain, an inflamed cornea, or an aversion to light, see your doctor of optometry right away.