Health Center - Eye Health

Protecting your eyes includes more than just wearing sunglasses. In addition to shielding yourself from damaging UV rays, your dietary choices and other daily habits can greatly affect your eye health. Get tips for fending off age-related problems and other damaging eye conditions.

Protect Your Eyes From the Sun

woman wearing sunglassesDid you know it's just as important to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful rays as it is to shield your skin? Protecting your eyes from the sun's rays is critical to good eye health, because the intense ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun damage sensitive cells in the eyes, eventually affecting vision in some people. A number of studies have shown sun exposure may increase your chances of developing eye problems, such as cataracts, later in life.

Short-term damage to the eyes is hard to notice, but over the long term the sun can cause irreversible harm to all structures of the eye and surrounding tissue that are left unprotected or under-protected. These conditions may not be noticeable for years, by which time the damage is already done for some people, and it is too late to reverse the effects of the sun. That's why it is important to get maximum protection beginning in childhood.

For best protection, wear UV-blocking sunglasses that completely cover the eye and a wide-brimmed hat to shade your eyes when you're out in the sun. If you wear contact lenses, talk to your eye care professional about UV-blocking lenses for extra protection.

One of the great things about contacts is that you can wear them under your favorite sunglasses—no prescription shades necessary. Most contacts, however, do not provide UV protection. Of those that do, not all provide similar absorption levels so it's important that you talk with your eye care professional about contact lenses that offer the highest levels of protection.

Here are some additional tips for protecting your eyes: