How do the sun and UV radiation affect your eyes?

Protecting your eyes from the sun is important because, like your skin, your eyes can burn in the sun. Solar UV radiation can also have long-term effects on eye health. Excessive UV radiation from the sun can adversely affect the structure of the eye: it increases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Sun and eyes – how to protect your eyes from the sun

The easiest way to protect yourself from the sun is to wear high-quality sunglasses and a cap or a bucket hat. If the sun is really bright, you should wear sunglasses even if you stay in the shade.

The sun not only affects the eyes, but also the skin of the face and eyelids. High and repeated UV exposure increases the risk of various skin cancers. So be sure to protect your skin as well.

Read more: How to protect your skin from the sun (in Finnish)

Can your eyes burn in the sun?

If the UV exposure is very high, for example, when moving in sunny weather on water or skiing on spring snow, bright light reflected around the eye surface can cause damage to the cornea, i.e. snow blindness. When you use sunglasses that filter UV radiation, you protect your eyes from burns.

If you notice pain, redness and photosensitivity in your eyes after a sunny day, it may be caused by damage to the corneal surface due to intense UV radiation. You can relieve the symptoms with moisturiser gels available from pharmacies and keeping your eyes closed.

What are good sunglasses like?

If you spend time in bright sunlight, such as on the beach or on boats, it is advisable to choose sunglasses that protect your eyes from UV radiation both from the front and the sides of your eyes. Polarised lenses help you see underwater and also reduce reflections, for example, on wet road surfaces.

When choosing sunglasses, pay attention to the following:

  • are the sunglasses comfortable and do they stay in place?
  • do the sunglasses provide adequate eye protection?
  • do they bear a UV 100% or UV 400 marking?
  • are the sunglasses suitable for the intended use, such as sports or boating?
  • are the lenses of high optical quality?

Source: Ophthalmologist Petri Usmi was interviewed for the article.

Specialists and locations

Maria Enckell
Silmätautien erikoislääkäri
Tuula Fyhrqvist
Silmätautien erikoislääkäri,LT
Timo Hellstedt
LT, Silmätautien erik.lääk, Silmäkirurgi
Tapio Ihanamäki
Silmätautien erikoislääkäri
joulukuu 2021viikko 48