How to Protect Your Eyes from Sun Damage

We have all heard that you shouldn’t look at the sun during a solar eclipse. However, it’s not just during an eclipse that the sun can damage your eyes. Long-term sun exposure or short periods of direct exposure can cause significant damage or blindness to our eyes. Knowing how to protect your eyes is the first step in the line of defense.

Understanding Sun Damage

The sun gives off three different types of energy. The light that we can see is one type of energy, the warmth that we feel is another, and the third type is ultraviolet or UV light. The UV energies are invisible to the naked eye, but are also the most damaging to our bodies. Sunburns are caused by UV light, and it can also harm your eyes.

In addition to there being UV light, there are two types, UV-A and UV-B light. Both of these types can damage parts of your eye. UV-A light can affect the central vision portion of your eye damaging the macula. The macula is a part of the retina that lies at the back of your eye. Most of the UV-B light is absorbed by the lens and cornea of your eyes, but even this light can end up being damaging. In fact, the UV-B light is typically more harmful than the UV-A light.

Protecting Yourself

There are two ways that you can protect your eyes from becoming sun damaged. The first is to understand UV damage. UV rays come from the sun, but this energy can be reflected from many different objects. Water, sand, snow, bright light reflecting the sun from cars or windshields or other glass can also expose you to damaging UV rays.

Once you understand that protecting your eyes from UV rays isn’t just about not looking directly at the sun, you can work on the second way to protect your eyes. Having proper protection is critical. You should look for sunglasses that have UV protection. You can even look into having your regular eyeglasses given a protective coating or photochromic lenses that will block both types of UV rays. If you have questions about which types of sunglasses or glasses are best to help protect your eyes, talk to your eye doctor. They can help guide you to the best solution that is specific to you.

Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also help to block about half of all of the UV rays that can enter your eye. Additionally, hats can help to reduce additional glare from your surroundings, and as a bonus, protect the top of your head from sunburns.

You can also limit your time outside. While sunburns can typically occur more quickly during the mid-day hours, your eyes can be especially vulnerable during the morning and evening hours because of the angle of the sun. The lower angle of the sun means that you have the UV rays that can penetrate directly into your eyes.

Watching Others

Everybody is at risk of damaging their eyes due to UV exposure. This means that if you care for young children, it is important to make sure that their eyes are taken care of as well. Children who learn proper safety precautions about their eyes are more likely to carry those practices into adulthood. This leads to a greater likelihood that they will protect their vision for their whole lives.


If you suspect that you have damaged your eyes from the sun, or have more questions about protecting your eyes, contact our office today to schedule an appointment. Our staff can help get you the right answers to keep your eyes happy and healthy.

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