When most people think of UV light, they think of black lights or tanning beds. In fact, UV light is completely invisible to humans and our Sun is the Earth’s biggest source. UV light is also known as ultraviolet light, ultraviolet rays, UV rays, UV radiation, and similar.
UV rays have various impacts on the human body and on our eyes in particular. In small doses UV light is relatively fine, but in excessive amounts it can cause serious harm to the body. Our eyes are at the most risk to UV due to how exposed they are- (clothes rarely cover the eye because people usually want to see what’s in front of them).
Different wavelengths of light produce different colours. The ultraviolet spectrum, which exists under 400nm, is invisible to human eyes. To see UV light you need a specialized camera.
There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC rays do not make it through our atmosphere, so we only need to worry about UVA rays (linked to cataracts and macular degeneration) and UVB rays (linked to eye cancer).
UV cannot penetrate clothing, and UVA rays also cannot pass through transparent glass. However, both UVA and UVB rays pass through clouds (hence why you still get sunburned on overcast days).
UVA rays are linked with cataracts. Cataracts form on the eye’s lens. They are a cloudy, hazy part of the lens that obscures and distorts vision. They can occur in anyone at any age, though they are the most common in senior citizens.
Also referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), UVA rays are also linked to increasing its development. Macular degeneration is the result of your retinal cells breaking down. Blind spots begin to form in your central vision, and at its most severe it can cause significant vision loss and partial blindness.
It is well-known that exposure to the Sun is a contributing factor in skin cancer. The same is also true of various eye cancers. UVB rays can penetrate the cell and alter its DNA, causing it to form a growth (tumour).
We recommend that you wear glasses that block UV light whenever you are outdoors. Most vision loss is irreversible- don’t let UV influence your eye health! We carry a full range of UV-blocking sunglasses as well as eyeglass lenses that block UV – come visit us in Point Grey and try on a pair!