Warnings about Eye Damage from the Sun 

eye damage sun

UV rays from the sun can lead to vision loss and cataracts if eyes are not adequately protected. 

Even on cloudy days the sun’s rays can penetrate, so good sunglasses are vital, eye experts have advised.

Ultraviolet radiation

During the hot sunny weather, it is not just our skin that needs protecting from the sun. Experts have warned that sun damage to the eyes can cause a number of issues.

As with the skin, it is the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun that can cause problems. Damage can build up over years and have an effect on eyes and eyesight.

Although much of the UV light is absorbed by the eyes without any damage, over-exposure has been shown to cause both short and long-term eye problems.

Short-term conditions

Short-term problems that UV rays can cause include photokeratitis, which is inflammation of the cornea. This can be caused by looking directly at the sun, or by UV rays being reflected from snow, water or sand. Photoconjunctivitis where the membranes on the eyeball get inflamed due to UV rays. 

Both these conditions usually get better within a couple of days, but they can be painful. 

Long-term conditions

Longer-term eye problems that can be caused by sun damage include cataracts, where small cloudy patches develop on the lens of the eye. 

Macular degeneration, where there is a gradual loss of central vision, is also associated with long-term UV exposure.


The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) advises that the best way to protect eyes against sun damage is to use a UV filter. Most prescription glasses and contact lenses have a built-in filter.

Sunglasses are the easiest way to protect the eyes. Ones with UV 400 protection can eliminate 97–100% of UV rays. They should have a CE mark, which show the glasses have been made to an agreed European standard. Sunglasses should be warn even on cloudy days, as the sun can penetrate through.

Reducing exposure

Exposure to UV rays increases where there are reflective surfaces, for example water. So it is even more important to wear those sunglasses when by the pool or on the beach. 

Children are even more vulnerable to sun damage to the eyes, so it is important to get children into the habit of wearing sunglasses. A wide-brimmed hat can reduce the UV rays reaching the eyes by up to 50%.

This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Health Care unless explicitly stated.

Additional comments on the page from individual Consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Consultants or Ramsay Health Care.

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