Effect of solar radiation on our eyes

Protection measures

Solar radiation is the source of life but it can also be dangerous, especially during the summer. The sun’s effect is harmful and can cause long-term diseases and aging on our eyes. It is therefore necessary that we protect our eyes from solar radiation with proper sunglasses, hats etc.

Which is the hazardous radiation?

We must know that three types of rays compose the solar radiation:

  1. The infrared radiation, which is responsible for the increase of cell temperature,
  2. The ultraviolet radiation (UV-A, UV-B) mainly responsible for external eye disease and cataract and
  3. The high-energy radiation in the visible spectrum, which is responsible for pathologies of the retina. These rays are not commonly discussed although they are the most dangerous since they cause irreversible damage and the common absorbent sunglasses do not protect sufficiently against them.

What damages does the solar radiation cause on our eyes?

The solar radiation is responsible for a set of eye diseases , which appear after years of sun exposure. Do not forget that the sun has an accumulative effect.

Starting from the outer eye tunics, the eyelids gather all the rays and therefore aging of their thin vulnerable skin comes faster than the rest of the skin. Moreover, appearances of tumors on the eyelids like melanomas must be immediately removed surgically. The cornea can also be affected temporarily. The result is an acute cheratocongiuntivitis similar to the one of welding.

The long-term sun exposure could be the cause of cataract with a gradual painless vision loss but reversible with cataract microsurgery.

The high-energy radiation in the visible spectrum (e.g. blue light) is responsible for damages on the retina. The age related macular degeneration, is one of the effects of long-term sun exposure. The damage caused is irreversible and leads to a gradual and painless vision loss. Moreover, a little can be done for this situation so prevention and eye protection is essential.

Ways to protect your eyes

Long-term prevention of the eye diseases is essential, especially during summer. Sunglasses is the first common and essential protection measure. Sunglasses must be absorbent for UV radiation. The lenses must be able to absorb the hazardous radiation without alterate vision and colors. Do not trust people who are not opticians and do not buy sunglasses from kiosks etc since those sunglasses do not have the right specifications and CE mark approval! Consult your ophthalmologist about the best way to protect you eyes. Use sunglasses all over the year, even in winter with sunny days. Make your children wear the right sunglasses since protection must be followed from the youngest possible age.

But common absorbent sunglasses are not able to protect us from the hazardous blue light mentioned above. However, new technology has permit to cover this gap and new lenses have appeared that absorb all kind of radiation offering greater protection. These lenses, called melanin lenses, they contain synthetic melanin, and are able to absorb even high energy visible radiation. No other kind of lens protects better than melanin lenses. Similar are the blue blockers lenses. Polarized lenses is another category that show very good absorbency in UV radiation and eliminate the glaring reflection of the sun.

Remember also that solar radiation reaches our eyes through the upper part of sunglasses, and a hat is always a good way to protect them more accurately.

Ask also your dermatologist to prescribe special sun block crèmes for the eyelids that offer a high protection index.

So, don’t forget to:

  1. Wear sunglasses with maximum absorbency (melanin, blue blockers, polarized lenses)
  2. Wear hats with long brims
  3. Use special sun block crèmes for the skin around the eyes


Prevention is always better than cure. The use of suitable absorbent sunglasses is the most essential protection measure starting from childhood. The use of new special lenses is crucial and finally do not forget your hat and sun block crème, especially at the beach.