Fun in the sun will be on everyone’s list of things to do during the summer months, but these are not the only times you should practice protective measures. Keeping yourself and others protected from UV radiation is an important, year-round responsibility.
What is UV radiation and why is it a problem?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of non-ionizing radiation that is emitted by the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds. While it has some benefits such as the creation of Vitamin D, it also can cause increased health problems.
Overexposure to UV radiation can lead to serious health issues, including cancer. Anyone can get skin cancer, but is more common in people who:
- Spend a lot of time in the sun or have been sunburned.
- Have light-colored skin, hair, and eyes.
- Have a family member with skin cancer.
- Are over age 50.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. But there are many ways you can protect yourself from UV radiation and lower your risk for getting cancer, such as:
- Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
- Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.
- Wear a wide brim hat to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher, for both UVA and UVB protection.
- Avoid indoor tanning. Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous for younger users; people who begin indoor tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a higher risk of developing melanoma.
Don’t forget, your eyes need protection, too!
Every day, not just during the summer — we are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. While many people are aware of the benefits of protecting their skin with clothing and sunscreen to prevent UV exposure, they do not take precautions to defend their eyes.
Sunglasses are the best way to protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around the eyes from over exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Unprotected exposure to the sun can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration, two of the leading causes of vision loss among older Americans.
When choosing sunglasses, select sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays and buy from a reputable retailer. Anyone who is outdoors at any time of year, whether it’s sunny or overcast, should protect their eyes by wearing appropriate UV protection.
The Vision Council offers some great tips on how to select the best sunglasses to protect your eyes and suit your lifestyle. Learn more here.