Avoid Sunburned Eyes


When preparing to enjoy sunny weather, people may think about applying suntan lotion and putting on a hat to protect their skin against sunburn and harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, but they often forget about wearing protective eye wear to maintain the health of their eyes.

Unfortunately, cumulative exposure over time to harmful UV rays can burn the cornea (white portion) of your eyes. The tissues can become inflamed when sunburned, and later in life individuals may experience benign growths on the surface of the eye, skin cancer on the eyelid, formation of cataracts or possibly macular degeneration. Individuals are at greatest risk of injuring their eyes when looking directly at the sun without wearing protective sunglasses. The retina also may be damaged, resulting in vision impairment.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), wearing sunglasses designed to protect your eyes is the best solution to avoid sunburned eyes. In a survey conducted by the AOA in 2010, only 33 percent of Americans thought that UV protection was an important quality of the sunglasses they purchased, and 35 percent did not realize that exposure to sun posed any risks to their eyes.

When purchasing sunglasses, look for the UV or UVR (Ultra Violet Radiation) label to ensure you are selecting a pair that meets the American National Standards Institute’s requirements for ultimate protection against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When trying on sunglasses check to ensure the lenses match in color and are free of distortions and imperfections. Look through the lenses at a straight line and if the line is curved or imprecise, find a different pair. Inexpensive sunglasses often have more flaws and will not provide the ultimate coverage needed to protect your eyes. For information on the best lens tint, read this blog.

After spending extensive time in the sun without wearing protective eye wear, the following symptoms will indicate whether your eyes are sunburned:

  • Blurred vision
  • Irritation
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Tearing
  • Temporary vision loss, similar to snow blindness

Guarding your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing protective sunglasses on sunny and cloudy days is one of the best decisions you can make. And don’t forget to have your kids wear protective sunglasses when spending time outdoors. The AOA states that kids’ eyes are sensitive to sunlight, and their vision should be protected from the sun to avoid cumulative injuries.

Do you regularly wear protective sunglasses when spending time in the sun? Which lens color do you prefer for your sunglasses? – Karen Gustin, Ameritas Group