Will The Eyes Get Damaged Without Sunglasses?

In 2007 a slogan was updated “slip-slop slap seek slide” that included seeking shade and sliding on sunglasses to further reduce the risk of UV damage. This put emphasis on the importance of protecting eyes and also the skin around them from UV radiation. Today you can visit sites like Goodr.com to find out the best sunglasses for yourself along with their advantages.

What Are The Short Term And Long Term Effects?

What Are The Short Term And Long Term Effects

Short Term Effects – Exposing an unprotected eye to UV rays won’t cause any symptoms. But a long or intense UV exposure without any eye protection can cause a condition called photokeratitis.

This can be thought of as sunburn of the cornea. UV rays cause damage of the outermost layer of cells of the cornea. This results in a large amount of pain affecting both the eyes, which starts 6 to 12 hours after exposure.

Treatment involves oral painkillers and antibiotic eye ointment and the process takes 24 to 72 hours and a full recovery with no complications from photokeratitis.

Long Term Effects – Continuous exposure to UV radiation without proper eye protection can result in permanent eye damage. Eye diseases due to chronic UV exposure include –

The Danger Of Diseases Due To Non-protection Of Eyes:

The Danger Of Diseases Due To Non-protection Of Eyes

The Cataract Of Eyes:

The transparent lens of the eye becomes cloudy in this. This causes blurred vision and blindness if untreated. 20% of cataract cases are made worse by UV exposure. Wearing sunglasses is the most effective way of preventing cataract formation.

When they cause troublesome Visual impairment, surgical extraction is required by the cataract.

The Pterygium Of Eyes:

This is a growth of conjunctival tissue on the cornea. Conjunctiva is transparent membrane overlying the sclera and does not cover the cornea. Although it is non cancerous, pteridium can cause chronic irritation, inflammation and redness. Grow slowly over months and years and abstract vision if it grows over the pupil. They may also induce astigmatism, that blurs the vision.

Treatment of mild pterygium not affecting vision, involves lubrication with artificial tears. And those affecting vision may require surgical excision. UV exposure to unprotect eyes is a major cause of pterygium development.
The Pterygium Of Eye
Macular Degeneration – It is a disease affecting the central part of the retina and may result in severe visual impairment. Treatment involves injections of medications directly into the eye and they aim to limit disease progression; they cannot reverse damage that has already been done. Wearing sunglasses is therefore important to limit excessive sunlight exposure of the retina.
Cancer – It is less common but chronic UV exposure is associated with increased rates of certain types of cancers. These include Melanoma within the eye , squamous cell carcinoma of the conjunctiva and skin cancers of the eyelids and around the eye where people normally do not apply sunscreen . Treatment of these cancers may require surgical removal of the entire eye sometimes.
Climatic Droplet Keratopathy – It is a rare disease caused by UV exposure in which the cornea becomes cloudy, obstructing vision and requiring a corneal transplant to restore vision.


It is important that price is not an indicator of effectiveness in UV protection. The sunglasses which are effective should be close fitting and wrap around to minimise the UV radiations that can enter the eye. Some contact lenses contain UV filters also. They cover only the cornea, they provide no protection against the development of pterygium or cancers on or around the eye. Sunglasses should be used all the time when you are outdoors. The eyes of children specially are susceptible to UV radiations, so they should be encouraged to wear sunglasses as soon as they can tolerate them.