What You Need to Know About UV Protection

As we enter into the long-awaited summer months, you probably have lots of plans for getting outside in the fresh air and soaking up some sunshine. And while you should definitely enjoy the warmer days and amazing weather this summer, practicing great preventive skin and eye care is also a must. While you likely know the importance of sunscreen and ultraviolet (UV) protection for your skin, remembering to shield your eyes from potentially harmful UV rays is also important. Here’s what you should know.


EHE’s Dr. Seema Sarin says that “protecting your eyes and vision is really important — especially [for] people with light colored eyes.” Dr. Sarin recommends wide brimmed hats and sunglasses labeled 100% UV protection for shielding your eyes from potentially harmful UV radiation. She also adds that folks don’t always realize the dangers posed by sun for those with light colored irises. “Studies show that increased UV exposure for people with light colored irises — like with blue and green eyes — may increase [the] risk of rare eye cancers such as melanoma of the iris... so it’s really important to wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.” Dr. Sarin also recommends choosing wrap-around style sunglasses to completely shield your eyes from the sun’s rays. And if you wear UV blocking contact lenses? — You still need protective sunglasses.


Dr. Sarin also notes that you may need to be more careful than you think on cloudy days as “clouds don't block UV light, so the sun’s rays can pass through haze and clouds, and sun damage [to the eyes] can occur at any time of year... and not just in the summer.” And in order to protect both your skin and eyes from possible sun damage, Dr. Sarin recommends staying out of the sun during peak hours — between 10am and 4pm.


The Dangers Of UV Radiation, And Why Protection Matters


Exposure to UV radiation significantly ups the risk for both skin and eye cancers, according to the American Cancer Society, so practicing good preventive care is key.


While sunlight is the main source of UV ray exposure, tanning beds and lamps are also sources of ultraviolet radiation and should be avoided, Dr. Sarin says. And while most of us know the importance of applying our daily sunscreen, it’s important to remember to protect our eyes, too. Remember to seek shade when outdoors — especially during the sun’s peak hours, and cover your skin and eyes with wide brimmed hats, UV blocking sunglasses, and protective clothing in breathable fabrics (like linen or cotton). Apply one ounce, or two tablespoons, of water resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen every two hours, and make sure to apply more often if you’re sweating or swimming a lot during the day.


Not only does practicing good preventive summer skin and eye care help reduce your risk for cancers and melanomas, it keeps your vision sharp while delaying the onset of wrinkles and premature aging — and who doesn’t love that? Remember that with a few great habits in place, you can relax, kick back, enjoy the summer months, and protect your skin and eye health long-term.