We all yearn for the sweet spring and summer days, but it is important to think of how these wonderful sunny days can harm your eyes. May is Ultraviolet Awareness Month and a great reminder of year-round eye safety measures.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are from the radiation emitted by the sun. UV rays can also be produced by tanning beds, lasers, and specialized equipment such as welders. Ultraviolet radiation is dangerous and commonly associated with skin cancer, but is also the culprit for various eye diseases.


Imagine the worst sunburn possible, then imagine that on the surface of your eye. Photokeratitis is exactly that: Sunburn of the eye. Redness, burning, tearing, and a feeling of grit in your eye are all symptoms of this painful condition. Wearing sunglasses any time you are outside is a critical strategy for promoting eye safety.


Ultraviolet radiation contributes to the development of cataracts as you age. Your eyes, like a camera, have a lens which can become cloudy over time. Light has more difficulty entering the eye, reducing your vision. Colors and contrast diminish and tasks such as driving become difficult and dangerous.

Macular Degeneration

Lining the rear interior of the eye is your retina, which receives the image after it passes through the eye’s lens. The retina then transfers the information to the optic nerve. The part of your retina that is responsible for the central part of the image, like the face in a portrait, is called the Macula. Ultraviolet radiation promotes Macular Degeneration, in which deposits build up on the macula and cause degradation of the image and eventual loss of vision. Macular Degeneration currently has no cure and can only be slowed once it has started.

Eye Skin Cancer

Just as any other area of your skin that is exposed to ultraviolet radiation can suffer skin cancer, so too can the delicate skin of the eye area. The prevention is again the right pair of sunglasses and a hat with a brim. As a cosmetic aside, these eye safety tactics can also help you avoid pesky lines and wrinkles in those areas.

Ultraviolet radiation can destroy your vision. Even on shady days, UV rays are still present and should be on your mind. Protect your sight now to enjoy clear vision for many sunny summers to come.