It's a fact that basically everybody is exposed to UV rays. Even though this is the case, the potential risks of years of exposure to these harsh rays aren't really thought about, and many take little action to shield their eyes, even when they're planning to be out in the sun for many hours. Being exposed to too much UV is unsafe and irreversible, and may result in more than a few serious, sight-damaging diseases in older age. Therefore, ongoing protection from UV rays is extremely important.
There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B, both of which are unsafe. Even though only tiny amounts of UVA and UVB light hit the inner eye, the eye cells are extremely receptive to the harmful effects of their rays. Small amounts of this kind of exposure can easily cause sunburn of the eye, also known as photokeratitis. When UVB rays enter the cornea, the outer cells are destroyed, and this can be expressed as pain, blurred vision or in serious cases, even temporary blindness. UVA rays can actually penetrate much deeper into the eye, which harms to the retina. Of the 20 million people with cataracts, about 20 percent are partly caused by long-term exposure to UV rays.
A really great way to shield your eyes from UV rays is through the use of quality eyewear. Check that your sunglasses or prescription glasses block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. An insufficient pair of sunglasses can actually be worse than using no sunglasses at all. Think about it this way: if your sunglasses don't give you any protection against UV, you're actually increasing your exposure to UV rays. Such sunglasses generally reduce the light, which causes the iris to open and allow even more light in. This means that more UV will be hitting your retina. Always check to make sure your sunglasses give maximum UV protection.
Wearing a wide brimmed sunhat or cap will also protect you from about half of UV rays. A brimmed hat or cap may also reduce UV rays hitting the eyes from above or around glasses.
Speak to your optometrist about all the different UV protection options, including fixed tint sunglasses, adaptive lenses and polarized lenses.