Why are UV Rays Harmful to Eyes?

Over time and prolonged exposure to UV rays, you may encounter several eye problems.

There are two types of UV rays; UV-A and UV-B. Both can be damaging to our eyes. UV-A rays can hurt the eyes central vision, as it damages the macula which is a part of the retina located at the back of the eye. UV-B rays are mostly absorbed by the front part of the eye and can be even more damaging to our eyes than UV-A rays.

There are a range of problems that can be caused by UV rays damaging the eyes, including the following:

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a medical condition that can result in blurred or no vision at all within the centre of the eyes visual field. There are no symptoms early on with macular degeneration.


UV rays, particularly UV-B, can cause cataracts. Cataracts cause clouding over the eye’s natural lens, which allows us to focus the light we see. Cataracts are common amongst older people, but prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause them prematurely.


Pterygium is a growth cause by UV rays. It begins to form on the whites of the eyes and often involves the cornea. Eventually, the growth can block vision. It is a noncancerous growth and is often shaped like a wedge.

Skin Cancer

The skin around our eyes is thin and susceptible to skin cancer after prolonged UV exposure.


Also known as corneal sunburn, photokeratitis, happens when someone’s eyes are exposed to UV-B rays for a short amount of time. Corneal sunburn can be very painful and can cause temporary vision loss.

You should protect your eyes from harmful UV rays by purchasing and wearing sunglasses that block out 100% of UV rays and absorb HEV rays. Choosing sunglasses with frames that are close-fitting are ideal as they limit the amount of sunlight that will reach your eyes. It’s important to remember that sun damage can occur any time of the year, not just summer, so it’s important to wear UV-blocking sunglasses whenever you’re outside. Don’t be fooled by the clouds, either! Even when wearing sunglasses, you should never look directly into the sun as this can quickly lead to solar retinopathy, which damaged the eyes retina.

For more information on UV rays and how to protect yourself, you can get in touch with the Viewpoint Vision team by visiting our contact page or by calling us on 01744 646643.