The American Academy of Ophthalmology has produced a document on "Ocular Ultraviolet Radiation Hazards In Sunlight" which details many of their concerns about ultraviolet radiation and your eyes.
The 3 Components Of UV RadiationUltraviolet radiation is normally separated into 3 components: UV-A which is in the 315-400 nanmeter wavelength, UV-B which is in the 280-315 nanometer wavelength, and UV-C which is in the 100-280 nanometer wavelength. UV-A has a lower energy level but it does penetrate much deeper into the eye which can result in injury and damage to your eyes. As the longest UV ray it is not absorbed at all by the ozone layer, and is a risk to unprotected eyes when subjected to these rays for a prolonged time frame.
Sunlight Related Eye DiseasesThe erythemal action spectrum shows that UV-A does not cause an immediate reaction. but rather UV-A begins to cause photokeratitis and skin redness at wavelengths starting near the beginning of the UV-B band at 315nm, and rapidly increasing to 300nm. Evidence from accidents and studies have shown that UV-B ultraviolet radiation is more dangerous because of its higher energy levels. Overexposure toe UV-B radiation can not only cause sunburn but some forms of skin cancer as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies this broad-spectrum ultraviolet light radiation as a Group 1 carcinogen. UV-B light can cause direct DNA damage and is one of the reasons for concern over the depletion of the ozone layer. Skin and eyes are most sensitive to damage by ultraviolet radiation at 265 to 275 nanometers, which is in the UV-C wavelength band. Light of this wavelength is almost absent from sunlight, but is commonly found in artificial light sources like welder's arcs. Exposure to UV-C can lead to cataracts and ptergium in the eyes.
What Part Of The Eye Can Be Damaged?The stronger UV-B ultraviolet radiation can damage the lens in your eyes while UV-A ultraviolet radiation penetrates deep enough to damage the retina of your eye if the exposure is intense and long enough. The Vision Council has issued a Safety Report which states:
Perhaps most devastating is the fact that while vision loss is among the top 10 disabilities among American adults aged 18 years and older, 90 percent of eye injuries are preventable. ... Men between the ages of 25-44 comprise 80 percent of all workplace eye injury victims.Studies have shown that ultraviolet radiation can contribute to the development of various eye disorders including cataracts, pterygium, cancer of the skin around the eye, photokeratitis and corneal degenerative changes. Cataracts become increasingly common with age, and laboratory studies have shown that ultraviolet radiation is a cause of cataracts, and epidemiological studies have shown that people with a history of higher exposure to ultraviolet radiation - particularly UV-B radiation - are more likely to have cataracts.
Who Is At Risk?Everyone is at risk, and no one is immune to ultraviolet radiation caused eye disorders. Some of the occupations with higher risks are:
- Aircraft Pilots;
- Construction Workers;
- Over The Road Drivers;
- Jobs On Large Bodies Of Water;
- Anyone Who Works Outdoors.