Experts have warned your eyes are ten times more at risk of sunburn than your skin.
Few people realise the danger of the sun’s invisible UV rays for our eyes, but new research by the Australian Skin Cancer Foundation has revealed the risks – even during colder months.
Now scientists are urging people to protect their eyes when outdoors even on cloudy days, as UV radiation is present all the time and could lead to photokeratitis – a painful temporary eye condition caused by overexposure to UV rays.
Photokeratitis, likened to sunburn of the eyes, is also referred to as ‘snow blindness’ as it commonly affects skiers and snowboarders. The condition causes inflammation of the cornea which can lead to colour changes in vision, blurry vision, headaches and a gritty sensation in the eyes. The longer you’re exposed to UV rays, the worse the symptoms will feel.
UV damage is also believed to speed up the development of cataracts – which may require surgery - and possibly age-related macular degeneration.
There are several ways to protect the eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
First, invest in a pair of sunglasses with UV protection. Experts advise people to wear sunglasses outside until it gets dark, particularly when the sun is low in the summer sky.
Also encourage children to get used to wearing sunglasses from an early age, as it has been estimated that 80 per cent of a person’s lifetime UV exposure happens before they become an adult.
Add an extra layer of protection by wearing a hat to ensure your eyes and delicate eyelids remain in the shade. Wide-brimmed hats offer the best coverage to prevent sunlight reaching your eyes.
Finally, book regular optician’s appointments to ensure any problems are spotted early.