The Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays – And Why You Need to Protect Your Eyes From Both This Summer
From a young age we’ve been told not to stare into the sun, and wear sunglasses on sunny days. But did you know that your eyes can still be damaged on even cloudy days? Just like a sunburn, eye damage occurs when the UV index is strong, regardless of how sunny it is. UVA and UVB rays can cause serious damage to our eyes, and you need protect yourself from both.
Types of UV Rays
There are actually 3 types of UV rays; UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC rarely gets talked about because this type of UV ray is filtered completely by the ozone. Continued ozone depletion from pollution and destruction of our forests could lead to these UVC rays (the most powerful and harmful type of ultra violet radiation) poking through one day.
UVB rays are the next most powerful form of UV radiation. However, because they are partially filtered by our ozone they are not as dangerous as UVA rays. These rays can cause “corneal sunburn” or “snow blindness” in outdoor enthusiasts who don’t protect their eyes with the right sunglasses. Snow blindness is a temporary yet painful inflammation of the cornea. This inflammation of the cornea causes temporary blindness for 1 – 2 days. Although this damage is not permanent, it can lead to long-term problems.
UVB rays can also cause what is known as pingueculae and pterygia, fancy words for growths on the eye’s surface. These can be an eyesore for both you and others, as well as cause corneal problems and distorted vision.
UVA rays are the most harmful to the human eye, because they're not filtered at all by the ozone. These rays can make their way through the cornea reaching the retina and lens of the eyeball, causing permanent damage. This type of UV radiation has been linked to causing cataracts and macular degeneration later in life. With enough exposure to UVA rays a human can go permanently blind from burning out their retina.
There are certain conditions beyond the UV index that can cause increased risk of eye damage. Being at a high elevation puts you at a much greater risk for eye damage. This is why it is ultra important for hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, snowboarders, skiers, and other mountain sport enthusiasts to wear sunglasses with the proper protection rating. Reflective conditions such as being out in the snow, sand, or water amplify the effect of UVA and UVB rays. Some birth control has been shown to increase eye damage risk as a result of UVA/UVB radiation as well.
How Can I Protect Myself?
When purchasing a pair of sunglasses, you need to look for 100% protection from both UVA and UVB rays. UV400 is often used as shorthand for this level of UV radiation protection. Sunglass companies that simply claim UV protection, 100% UV light protection, or something of the like without specifying both types of radiation are probably not going to give your eyes the protection they need and deserve. After all, your eyes are probably the most useful tool you have available to you, and as of now we only get one set per lifetime. It’s important for us to take care of this vital organ and protect it properly.
ZenDen produces sunglasses that are made with lenses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays keeping your eyes safe. For each product that ZenDen sells, we plant a tree for many reasons, one of them being to fight ozone depletion and keep those especially nasty UVC rays from reaching us while minimizing the effects of the already harmful UVB and UVA rays.
At ZenDen we care about our community and keeping you all as happy and healthy as possible. Because of this, we want to offer those of you who have read to this point $5 off your next pair of ZenDen sunglasses. Just use code EYEAMPROTECTED to save $5 at checkout. You can browse our tasteful selection of sunglasses here. Our sunglasses provide full protection for your eyes with style, as a good pair of sunglasses should, at a fraction of the price that the big “brand names” charge.