Why We Protect Our Eyes

Most of us have heard how important it is to protect our eyes from the sun's harsh ultraviolet rays, but many don't know what UV damage can actually do to our eyes. Every year, we partner with The Vision Council to celebrate National Sunglasses Day on June 27 -- and here's why.

The sun emits three types of ultraviolet rays: UVA, UVB and UVC. If you've never heard of UVC rays before, you're not alone; they're not mentioned nearly as much as UVA and UVB rays, because they are absorbed completely by our atmosphere and never reach the earth's surface. By contrast, all UVA rays pass through the atmosphere and reach us; they account for the majority of UV exposure. The atmosphere absorbs only some UVB rays, while the rest pass through and reach the earth's surface.

Both UVA and UVB rays can cause significant short-term and long-term eye damage. When reflected off surfaces like water, sand, snow or buildings, UV rays can double in strength, posing even more of a threat to eye health.

Short-term damage is typically the result of spending a long day outdoors in strong sunlight with no UV protection. This type of damage can present as discomfort, pain, redness, swelling, blurred vision or sensitivity to light. In extreme cases, UV radiation can burn the cornea or cause temporary blindness.

Long-term UV exposure to the eye can lead to a number of eye problems including painful growths that may obscure vision. Importantly, long-term exposure has also been shown to accelerate the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that up to 20% of all cataracts could be attributed to UV radiation. Long-term UV exposure can also lead to different forms of cancer in the eye and in the surrounding area.

While UV-related eye damage is scary, it's easy to avoid when you wear advanced optic technology like Eagle Eyes sunglasses. Developed from original NASA optic technology, our TriLenium® polarized lens technology blocks 99.9% of UV radiation, while also providing blue light protection. In fact, these are the only sunglass lens to meet the rigorous criteria of the Space Foundation and be inducted into the Space Foundation's Technology Hall of Fame.

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