I don’t think you’re ready for this article. Well, okay, I do think you’re ready, but I’d already paraphrased Destiny’s Child in the title, and I didn’t feel like I could stop there. We’ll keep the Bootylicious references at a minimum for the rest of the post. We like to talk about waves of light on the blog because that’s what enables us to see; we’ve already touched on how blue light can affect your mood, vision and more. Today, we want to go into a little bit about ultraviolet radiation, and how it affects your vision.

We touched on this topic a bit when we discussed snow blindness, but here’s what you need to know. UV rays can not only harm your skin, they can harm your eyes. Exposure to UV rays is linked to a whole host of different eye problems, including cataracts, pterygium, pinguecula and macular degeneration. That means you’ve got to be extremely careful about how often you let your eyes be exposed to the sun. As a kid, I heard more than once that “you can’t stare at the sun, or you’ll burn your eye out!”. What I was envisioning was something a little more drastic, but as it turns out you don’t need to stare at the sun to risk exposure.

That’s because ultraviolet radiation doesn’t have to move in a direct line from the sun to your eyes. It bounces around, which is why you can get snow blindness; the rays hit the snow, then your eyes. It’s not just snow that can bounce UV rays, though; concrete, sand, and a plethora of other materials are quite good at spreading UV rays around. The higher the UV index, the more at risk you are, so it’s worth checking the index every day!

It’s important to remember that where you are has a huge effect on UV radiation. In Winnipeg, we’re pretty far from the Equator, so our UV index is usually pretty low; if you go on vacation to a tropical location, you better wear sunglasses pretty much non-stop! Your altitude also has an effect; the higher up you are, the more UV radiation will reach your eyes. The sun being high in the sky will also lead to more UV rays, and certain medications might increase your susceptibility to UV.

For the best protection against UV rays, you’ll want sunglasses that block 100% of UV radiation. Your optician will be able to help you find the right brand; you can get prescription sunglasses that let you see in 20/20 while protecting your eyes! For those who don’t want to buy two pairs of glasses, one for sun and one for none, and who don’t want to wear their sunglasses at night so they can see, there are photochromic eyeglasses Winnipeg optometrists can offer that begin to block UV rays when exposed to the sun. Treat your eyes well, and you’ll save yourself a lot of hardship down the line!