Why Is UV Light Harmful to Your Retinas?
Everyone is at risk for eye damage due to ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure. The sun is the largest source of UV light. Ultraviolet light is categorized into 3 names based on wavelength: UVA (long wavelength), UVB (medium wavelength) and UVC (short wavelength). The short wavelength is filtered through the earth’s ozone layer and atmosphere, but UVA and UVB rays both reach the surface of the earth. Damaging UV rays are 95% UVA and 5% UVB light. UV radiation levels are affected by a variety of environmental factors that include sun elevation, latitude, cloud cover, altitude, ozone and ground reflection. Artificial sources of UV radiation include tanning beds, black lights, curing lights, halogen lights, lasers and welding lamps. Permanent damage occurs with extreme, long-term exposure.
Why is UV light harmful to your retinas? The main eye diseases or conditions brought on by UV exposure include cataracts, photokeratitis, skin cancer, corneal sunburn, pterygium and macular degeneration; macular degeneration is a retinal disease that affects the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that although invisible to the human eye, causes ionization. Ionization is a breaking of chemical bonds that damages living tissue in the skin and the eyes. UVB light is absorbed by the cornea and lens; however, UVA light passes through the retina and the macula causes damage to central vision as well as the loss of fine details.
Retinal damage can not only be caused by UV light, but blue-violet light exposure can cause harm as well. While the outer eye structures protect the retina from UVB damage, blue light is not readily absorbed by the cornea and lens. Not only does UVA light reach the retina, but so does blue light most notably from digital screens such as TVs, computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets and LED back-lit screens. The retina is even more susceptible to UV and blue light once retinal damage has occurred.
To protect your eyes against the harm of UV light to your retinas, Associated Retina Consultants suggests limiting extended sun exposure and wearing appropriate UV blocking sun protection when outdoors. Limit the use of electronic devices and take frequent breaks to reduce strain and visual fatigue of the eyes in addition to wearing glasses or contacts that contain blue-light blocking filters. For more information on how to protect your eyes, visit WEBSITE. To schedule your retinal exam, call 602-242-4928.