UV damage

What is UV damage?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation comprises invisible high energy rays from the sun that lie just beyond the blue end of the visible spectrum. The UV radiation present in sunlight is not useful for vision and is thought to contribute to age-related eye diseases.

Protection can be achieved by simple, safe and inexpensive methods such as wearing a brimmed hat and using eyewear that absorbs UV radiation.

What are the effects of UV radiation on the eye?

Ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is commonly divided into two components. UV-A causes tanning and is thought to contribute to ageing of the skin and skin cancer, and UV-B which causes sunburn and skin cancer. Neither UV-A nor UV-B has been shown to be beneficial to the eye and neither contributes to vision.

Clinical experience and studies show that UV-B is more damaging, presumably because it has higher energy. Most UV-B radiation is absorbed by the cornea and lens of the eye and can cause damage to these tissues.  It  will not normally damage the retina, however the retina can be damaged if exposed to UV-B.

Optimal sun protection should screen out both types of UV radiation.

UV-related eye diseases

Ultraviolet radiation can contribute to the development of various ocular disorders including cataract, pterygium, cancer of the skin around the eye, photokeratitis and corneal degenerative changes, and may contribute to age-related macular degeneration.