July is National UV Safety Month. This presents a great opportunity to educate yourself about the harmful effects of UV exposure. In addition to causing skin damage, ultraviolet rays can cause cataracts and skin cancer.
The three types of UV rays are UVA, UVB, and UVC. Absorbed by the ozone layer, UVC rays do not pose any threat. However, UVA and UVB rays have short-term and long-term negative effects on your skin, vision, and immune system.
Sunlight is the main source of UV rays. However, UV radiation can also come from certain artificial sources. Examples include tanning beds, diagnostic X-rays, and phototherapy. About 90 percent to 95 percent of ultraviolet rays from the sun are UVA. UVB rays are a more potent cause of skin cancer since they have more energy.
The strength of the UV rays from the sun reaching the ground depends on several factors. They are strongest in the middle of the day and during the spring and summer months. Also, UV exposure reduces as you go further away from the equator. Finally, there is more exposure at higher elevations.
Taking steps to mitigate damage from UV exposure is a year-round responsibility. While UV radiation has some benefits, such as the creation of Vitamin D, it can also cause serious health risks. Some of the ways to reduce or prevent damage from UV exposure include:
Using shades with polycarbonate lenses with built-in UV coverage or UV coating can help prevent damage from UV rays. Another good choice is photochromic lenses. UV exposure can lead to the development of macular degeneration, cataracts, or retina damage. Therefore, it is important to wear sunglasses with UV protection when out in the sun.
Most of the sun exposure during your lifetime is incidental. If you plan to spend time outdoors for more than 15 minutes, use sunscreen with SPF 30. If you prefer to use a moisturizer, choose one with SPF.
When it comes to mitigating damage from UV exposure, most people neglect their lips. The sun’s rays can leave your thin-skinned lips with painful sunburns, as well as the wrinkles and lip lines associated with aging. Therefore, it is important to apply and keep reapplying a lip-protection balm at least once every hour.
This type of clothing has a special coating designed to absorb UV rays. The higher the UPF, the more the garment will protect you. Your regular clothes can protect you as well, as long as they are a dark color and made of tightly woven fabrics.
UV rays are often strongest in the middle of the day. If your shadow is very short, then it is not a good time to be outside. If you are out between 10 am and 4 pm, try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
To learn more ways to mitigate damage from UV exposure, visit Grove Eye Care at our offices in Richmond and Midlothian, Virginia. You can also call 804-353-3937 or 804-888-8998 to book an appointment today.