Protect Your Eyes from the Sun

How Can UV Rays Damage Your Eyes?

There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B. Over time, the effects of UV rays may help cause a number of eye problems.

Types of UV Rays ► Types of UV Rays ▼

UV-A
can hurt your central vision. It can damage the macula, a part of the retina at the back of your eye.

UV-B
The front part of your eye (the cornea and the lens) absorbs most UV-B rays, but these rays may cause even more damage to your eyes than UV-A rays.

What eye problems can UV rays cause? ► What eye problems can UV rays cause? ▼

Macular Degeneration

UV rays may lead to macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss for older Americans.

Cataract

UV rays, especially UV-B rays, may also cause some kinds of cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, the part of the eye that focuses the light we see.

Pterygium

Another UV-related problem is a growth called pterygium. This growth begins on the white of the eye and may involve the cornea. Eventually, the growth may block vision. It is more common in people who work outside in the sun and wind.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer around the eyelids is also linked to prolonged UV exposure.

Corneal Sunburn

Corneal sunburn, called photokeratitis, is the result of high short-term exposure to UV-B rays. Long hours at the beach or skiing without proper eye protection can cause this problem. It can be very painful and may cause temporary vision loss.