• Optician near Heathrow

UV Eye Damage

How to look after your eyes in summer (and winter)

Longer days, warmer weather and holidays are all reasons to celebrate. But as you spend more time in the sun, you should be aware of the steps you can take to protect your eyes from sun exposure.

UV light is a form of radiation that reaches the earth from the sun. In small doses, UV light can have positive effects on the body and is even used to treat some skin conditions. But long term exposure to the UV light that comes from the sun can cause serious damage to both your eyes and skin.

Here are some interesting facts about UV damage:

  • Your eyes are the only internal organs that are directly exposed to UV

  • The damage done to the eyes is cumulative and often irreversible

  • 40% of UV exposure occurs when we are not actually in direct sunlight

  • 94% of people do not know that UV exposures is harmful to your eyes

  • UV damage causes 90% of visible premature ageing around the eyes

  • 5-10% of skin cancer occurs on the eyelids

  • Wearing UV protection can assist the delay of the onset of both cataracts and macular degeneration

The damage to the retina when people stare directly at the sun, either during an eclipse or at other times, can lead to permanent decreased quality of vision, vision loss and even blindness.

Choosing the right UV protection

  • Clear prescription glasses with a UV treatment will help keep your eyes safe on cloudy days, but you should still have a good pair of prescription sunglasses for brighter days

  • If you are a contact lens wearer, a good pair of sunglasses with a UV filter are recommended to wear over your CL’s

  • You can also have contact lenses that have some UV protection (sunglasses are still recommended for bright days)

  • Always choose frames that offer good coverage of the eye and fit well

  • Glasses with reactive lenses (that are clear inside and go dark like sunglasses when you are outside) are ideal if you regularly go between outdoors and indoors, and will save you having two pairs of glasses

  • Frames with clear lenses that have the option of having sun clips.

For more advice please call us on 020 8759 9395 for same day appointments or book an appointment online

Adding a UV-protective treatment to your prescription glasses is a simple way to keep your eyes protected against all UV damage. Although if you spend a lot of time outside or driving, having a pair of prescription glasses with a UV filter will keep your eyes protected as well as keeping them comfortable in the bright light.

With Cranford Opticians, you can be stylish while staying protected against the sun. We have a range of prescription glasses and sunglasses to suit everyone — from designer to more budget-friendly frames. Damage caused by UV rays adds up over time, but it’s never too early or late to start protecting your eyes:

We stock quality sunglasses for protection from age 6 months to adults.

Protecting your eyes from UV

Sunglasses are an excellent way of protecting your eyes from the UV light, with many tints available. Sunglasses that offer protection against UV rays will have a CE mark to show that they are made to an agreed European standard, or look for the British Standard for sunglasses: BS EN ISO 12312-1. For full protection wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays, which requires a rating of UV400 or higher. Wearing sunglasses may also help people that are light sensitive or have problems dealing with glare.

It’s important to remember that it’s not just sunny days that carry a UV risk – UV radiation can be high on cloudy and overcast days too when you would not think of wearing sunglasses. This is because UV light can penetrate clouds and even materials like the glass of your car windscreen.

If you don’t favour wraparound sunglasses, wear wide brimmed hats, such as a baseball cap with your normal sunglasses. Hats will protect not only your eyes, but the top, sides and back of your head too.

What are UV rays?

UV rays are also known as ultraviolet radiation. They are invisible to the human eye and can be divided into three types: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC rays do not reach the earth from the sun because they are blocked by the ozone layer. UVA and UVB rays do reach the earth from the sun; UVB rays are shorter in wavelength than UVA and are primarily responsible for sunburns, whereas UVA rays are longer in wavelength than UVB and are responsible for photoaging.

Research suggests that the harmful UVA and UVB rays contained in sunlight may be a factor in a number of eye diseases, in particular cataracts and macular degeneration

How UV rays damage your eyes

UV light is damaging to almost ALL ocular structures causing many eye conditions, and is also ageing to all of the structures of the eye. UV rays can cause sunburn of the eye surface and surrounding skin called photokeratitis. It is most likely to happen when you look directly at the sun, because the thin skin on your eyelids is not thick enough to protect your eyes from UV rays.

If you suffer from sunburns on the surface of your eyes, it can also damage the retina which is the light-sensitive lining at the back of your eye, leading to vision loss and even blindness. Cataracts, corneal damage and macular degeneration are all possible chronic effects from UV exposure and can ultimately lead to reduced vision.

Water and snow heightens the amount of reflected UV light, so good protection is needed in these conditions. Skiers and snowboarders should take particular care to avoid snow blindness.

The problem with UV eye damage is that the effects are cumulative, meaning you can't undo the damage by taking a break from your routine. Each time you're exposed to UV radiation, you increase your risk for developing eye problems, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

UV damage induces dryness, accentuated skin furrows, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, sagging and mottled pigmentation. UV rays are connected with skin cancers including cutaneous melanoma, basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cell carcinoma can occur not just on the skin, but on the conjunctiva and invade the cornea and inside of the eye, in rare cases resulting in the removal of the entire eye.

Damage to the cornea can occur when UV light is reflected off the water, like when you are engaging in aqua sports, so always wear the correct UV sunglasses in the sea or on the river.

If you feel you have suffered from excessive UV exposure please call us on 020 8759 9395 for same day appointments or book an appointment online and select the emergency appointment option.


Our advice for an eye injury or emergency


Injury can happen to anyone, at any time. It doesn't matter how young or old you are, or how fit you are. It's our goal to help you get back to your normal life as quickly as possible. If you are ever worried about your eyes or your family’s eye health, feel free to come and talk to us about eye care. Call 020 8759 9395 to make an appointment for an eye test. Alternatively, you can book online.

Parking: Street parking on The Avenue, High Street, Berkeley Avenue or Waye Avenue. Car parks at the Ibis budget London Heathrow Central (TW5 9SX) and DoubleTree Hilton by Hilton London Heathrow Airport (TW5 9QE). Please check for parking conditions.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. #Eyehealth