Understanding UV Light & the Damage it Can Do to Your Eyes

Understanding UV Lights & The Damage it Can Do To Your Eyes

We’re all familiar with the UV rays. We’ve seen it on skincare product labels, heard it over the radio, and came across it on social media. A lot. Several platforms have also warned us already about its dangers repeatedly. But sometimes we still overlook such a serious issue.

We often neglect putting our shades on and forget rubbing some sunblock whenever we’re going out. We’re all guilty of it.  

That’s why in this piece we’re digging a little deeper to remind everyone once again what UV rays really are and how it can affect our everyday lives.

But first, here’s a quick refresher:

The Basics of UV Rays

Contrary to popular belief, ultraviolet rays are not only present during summer or any given day that the sun is out. Whatever the season is, UV rays can still harm you. That’s right, even during the freezing days of winter.

UV rays are always at their strongest from 10AM to 4PM. So you have to take extra caution during these hours.

You can also categorize the UV rays into three wavelengths: the UVA, UVB and the UVC. These wavelengths vary depending on their reach and damage.

  • UVA – Among the three, the UVA rays are the most dominant radiation from the sun that reaches the Earth. The UVA makes up 95% of all the harmful rays that enter the atmosphere. What’s surprising for many is that these rays can actually penetrate up to the inner layer of your skin.
  • UVB – If you’ve been sunburnt at least once in your life, you have the UVB rays to blame.  When it comes to skin cancer and other diseases, UVB is also the main culprit.
  • UVC – Thankfully, this type of radiation does not reach the Earth.  And we have the atmosphere that absorbs it to thank.  Mahalo, atmosphere!

These are only some of the basics that you need to know about UV rays. Now that we’re on the same boat, let’s go onto the scary part:

The Damage that UV Light Can Do to Your Eyes

UV light on eyes protected by sunglasses male

A little heads up before we start: there is some science term overload coming your way! But don’t turn a blind eye on this jargon because it might just help you in the future. So let’s get started…

While ultraviolet rays are mostly associated with the skin damage and health issues, these harmful rays can harm your eyes, too. Whether you are exposed for a short period of time or for a much longer period, the UV radiation can certainly take its toll on your eyes. Below are only some of the conditions that you can get from too much UV light exposure:


Photokeratitis is characterized as the swelling of the cornea, which basically covers the eye. Once your eyes are exposed to UV light, you may suffer from this condition. Some of the symptoms that you can experience are redness of the eye, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and pain in the eyes.

Photokeratitis does not require medical treatment and it will fade with the help of some antibiotic and tear eye drops. While it’s normally a temporary condition, you should still take precautionary measures to protect your eyes from the sun. Wear hats or sunglasses when going to the beach, hiking, or when simply meeting up with friends.


Pinguecula, on the other hand, is the whitish or yellowish bump on the conjunctiva, which is the gelatinous layer that protects the white parts of the eye.

Unlike Photokeratitis, Pinguecula is a condition that doesn’t go away immediately. But if in any case the bump turns red and inflamed, you can treat it with several eye drops. To prevent it from worsening, you should protect your eyes from the sun, wind, and dust by using sunglasses or goggles.


If you suffer from Pinguecula and still fail to protect your eyes, this condition can turn into Pterygium. This condition is characterized by a white shaped bump over the white part of the eyeball. If this bump continues to grow, it can damage your cornea, and you might be required to undergo surgery to save your vision.

While Pterygium is also commonly called the “surfer’s eye”, it’s not only surfers who can get this. Keep in mind that if your eyes are exposed to UV for hours, you’re also at greater risk.

It’s also worth noting that although Pterygium and Pinguecula are closely associated with each other, these conditions may also present themselves at different times and places.


Cataract is a long-term eye condition that is caused by years of sun exposure. It’s the clouding of the eyes which is also one of the top reasons of blindness in the world.

Although it’s believed that we are all going to develop cataract in our eyes someday, there is evidence that those who are exposed to the sun constantly are likely to develop this condition more rapidly. 

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration occurs at the macula. Macula is an area near the centre of the retina, while the retina is the layered lining that is found at the back of the eye and is the tissue that’s responsible for our clear vision.

But with macular degeneration, everything can change. This condition can result in blurred virion, or even blank spaces in vision. Depending on the case, it can either progress slowly or rapidly.

There is no cure to macular degeneration. At least, none yet. It can be treated to slow down the progression, but the blurred and blanked vision that the degeneration had already caused can’t be fixed anymore.

These conditions may sound scary, but keep in mind that these are all preventable. All you have to do is to minimize your sun exposure as much as possible. And you can do it by simply wearing the right gear when going outdoors for a ride, hike, or jog.  

Invest in a Decent Pair of Sunglasses

sunglasses on the beach

While avoiding the sun during 10AM-4PM or wearing wide-brimmed hats are good protective measures, nothing beats the protection that the ever-reliable shades can provide. That’s because they protect your eyes more directly.

To get the most protection of your eyes, you should invest in a decent pair that can provide you with protection. Below are the qualities that you should consider when shopping for your specs:

UV Protection

Almost all legit brands prioritize protection against UV on their lenses. The question is how effective is that protection. To make sure that you’re 100% shielded from sun radiation, look for models that are UV400-protected. That’s because UV400 is the highest rating in UV protection. These types of lenses guard your eyes from 99-100% of both UVA and UVB.

Polarised Sunglasses

While UV radiation is the silent killer of the eyes, glare is its more obvious partner in crime. But glare can be easily reduced if your sunglasses have polarised lenses. Polarised sunglasses can cut down the glare to a minimum so you can go about your outdoor activity without squinting your eyes too much.

Maximum Coverage

Total protection also means maximum coverage of your eyes. If you’re looking to protect your eyes, sunglasses with very small lenses (which are usually used only for aesthetic purposes) might not be your best option. Make sure that the sunglasses you’re choosing can cover your eyes well and even the skin surrounding them. This way, not even a thread of UV light can penetrate your eyes.

Where to Score Your Next Pair

woman wearing sunglasses

That’s easy. Shop around Great Southern Sunnies for a wide range of sunglasses to choose from, express shipping and AfterPay. We’ve got the high-fashion sunnies of Gucci, Prada, Versace and so much more.

If you’re that type who takes his or her game seriously, we’ve got Oakleys, Bolle, Nike sports sunglasses and many others. 

But if you just want to walk the streets in style and casually turn heads while protecting your eyes, we got the Smiths (nope, not the band), Police, Ray-Ban, and other fashionable sunglasses. Check out the full range of brands we have at GSS.

Whatever your sunnies game is, we’re sure we have just the right pair for you. So feel free to shop around!


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