Ultraviolet light damages eyes gradually because, unlike other cells in our bodies, the cells of the lens of the eye are never replaced. In other words, the lens cannot repair itself, and damage accumulates over a lifetime. So, exposure as a child, teenager and young adult contributes to cataracts, macular degeneration and even eye cancer later in life.

Fortunately, cumulative eye damage is preventable. Even if you were careless in your younger days, you can still slow progressive eye disease by starting today to care for your eyes when in the sun.

With the arrival of summer comes UV rays 3 times higher than in the winter. To help you prepare and in honor of May being Ultraviolet Awareness month, let’s look at 10 Tips related to UV awareness to help preserve vision.

  1. Avoid or reduce exposure from 10AM to 4PM when UV rays are at their strongest.
  2. Wear protective eyewear even on cloudy days since up to 80% of the sun’s rays penetrates through clouds.
  3. Make sure sunglasses are labeled UV400 or 100% UV before you purchase them. Only about 50% of individuals check, and many end up with shaded glasses without UV protection that actually increase eye damage to eyes.
  4. Consider wrap around or large sunglasses. The sun is sneaky and able to reach eyes through open sides, top and bottom of sunglasses. Also think about adding a wide-brimmed hat for added protection, especially with increased exposure.
  5. Even though some contacts have UV protection, you’ll still want to wear sunglasses since most contacts don’t provide 100% protection.
  6. Be sure everyone in your family wears appropriate eye protection when in the sun. Kids are often overlooked when it comes to sunglasses, but they are actually more susceptible to damage than adults.
  7. Know your medication’s side effects since some medications increase a person’s sensitivity to the sun.
  8. Know that lens color and shade do not impact UV protection, though they affect visibility (glare, reflection, etc.). In fact, there are many options available for clear lenses that provide 100% UV protection.
  9. Don”™t let cost deter you from sufficient UV protection. Many options exist for inexpensive eyewear that provides at least 99.9% UV protection.
  10. Remember that indoor tanning also damages eyes. In fact, indoor tanners produce up to 100% stronger UV rays the sun. This means that damage can happen more quickly and be more severe for those who frequent them. The best protection when going to a tanner is to wear the protective goggles that most tanners provide and many states require.

The CDC reports that the leading causes of blindness and low vision in the United States are age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Fortunately, in many cases these diseases can be slowed and possibly even prevented by through healthy habits like eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, not smoking and getting regular eye exams.

Equally, and possibly more important to eye health, is the important daily practice of wearing 100% UV eyewear to prevent cumulative damage from the sun. As you prepare for the carefree summer days ahead, be sure to make sure your eyes “” and those of everyone in your family “” are properly protected from the sun’s damaging UV rays. Protect your eyes now to help ensure good vision for a lifetime.