The sun has lightwaves called “Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation” that can directly damage the delicate tissues of your eyes. This light is unlike other lights you see during the day, but wavelengths close to UV wavelengths can also cause changes in your body. We can help protect your eyes from vision damage from UV rays so you enjoy clearer vision for life. Learn what UV rays do and how you can protect your eyesight!
Did you know that when you are looking at objects, those objects aren’t actually the color you see them as? There are many types of light waves that exist such as infrared, UV rays, x-rays, and visible light rays. The electromagnetic spectrum—or the range of light that we see as colors—is the only set of light waves that we can see because our eyes can detect the waves of energy those colors have. When you look at an object, you are looking at something that has visible light waves hitting it.
Light will hit an object, and some of those wavelengths of light will be absorbed. Other lightwaves will bounce off and those are ones that will be the color your eyes see. Inside your eye, you have delicate tissues that detect the bouncing light waves. Those tissues are called “rods” and “cones” and lie in the retina, which is in the back of your eye. This is a light-sensitive tissue that is vital for vision. Light will pass through your eye and hit the rods and cones on the retina tissue. This area is like a computer board that will take in information, and send that information to your brain. The brain then interprets what light you are seeing. Cones help determine color from bright light and rods work best in dim light.
The visible lights that you can see lie in the electromagnetic spectrum. Many types of light travel through space and hit the earth. The electromagnetic spectrum is that range of light and energy waves that hit the earth, some of which include visible light waves. Depending on how much energy a wave carries, it will determine if you can see the wave or not. Visible light is just a tiny fraction of energy waves that exist. Some of those lights you can’t even see because they are very close to x-ray waves, which you can’t see. That transition from visible light to non-visible on one end of the spectrum consists of blue light and UV rays.
Light ranges from red, orange, yellow, green and then to blue, indigo and violet light waves. Once it starts moving towards the blue end, your eye stops being able to see those colors. You may hear the term “UV light” used often, even though this term is incorrect. Ultraviolet radiation is known as “UV rays” because it is a radiation lightwave, instead of light that your eye can see. Because your naked eye can’t detect UV rays, they can become damaged over time without you realizing it. There are three types of this wave that carries energy to earth, which is the energy that can harm eye tissues:
Have you ever been outside and ended up with a sunburn? You get this because lightwaves that carry a ton of energy can damage your body’s cells and leave you with a burn. The same can happen with your eyes and the tissues inside of them. You can actually get a sunburn on your eyes, especially if you do winter sports and you don’t wear protective eyewear to stop the light that reflects strongly off of snow. Light waves can also hit the earth and go into your eye, damaging the delicate tissues inside that detect colors and detail.
In a short period of time exposed to UV rays, you can experience “photokeratitis”, which is an eye sunburn. With longer exposure (especially in small doses here and there), your eye will sustain a little bit of damage each time you’re out in the sun. Just like you get a sunburn without realizing it until it’s too late, you also get tissue damage in your eyes without realizing it before it’s too late. Because the sun’s atmosphere does not absorb UVA and UVB rays, that means that they are getting all the way to you and your eyes, causing damage. That happens any time you walk outside and even in the winter when it is cloudy or overcast. Radiation and energy can still come through the clouds and storms, causing you damage.
UV rays from the sun cause problems such as vision loss, blindness, photokeratitis, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. Blue light is another color we mentioned that lies next to UV rays on the energy spectrum. Although different from UV rays, blue light is very similar when it comes to light and energy that it carries. Plus, UV rays and blue light rays are also now man-made in technology such as tanning beds, nail salons, and even tablets, smart devices, LED lighting, fluorescent lighting and more.
When you are outside, make sure you are wearing sunglasses that block out 100% of UV rays. A professional pair will ensure that you are getting sunglasses for sports or normal wear that actually have UV-blocking technology. Many store-bought sunglasses only provide tinted shades that don’t block out any energy waves, defeating the purpose of even having sunglasses. Computer glasses to block out harmful blue light waves also exist, and can be used indoors and outdoors. When it comes to your eyes, protecting them is as simple as putting on a good pair of professional sunglasses. To get your pair, call Peeper’s Optical today at (303) 223-0401!