Benefits of UV Protection for Seniors: Why UV Protection is Essential
Ultraviolet radiation is the electromagnetic radiation found mostly in sunlight. Commonly subdivided into UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C based on their wave length, the amount of UV level we receive on earth greatly depends on the stratosphere ozone layer, time of the day/year, latitude, altitude, weather conditions, and surface reflection.
Well-Known Effects of UV Radiation on Skin
While UV-C (the most harmful radiation) is completely absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer and the atmosphere, UV-A and UV-B are known to adversely affect our skin health. According to National Weather Service (NWS), although moderate exposure to some UV radiation can stimulate healthy Vitamin D production in the body, extended exposure of UV radiation is known to cause skin-related problem such as sunburn, photoaging, and skin cancer.
UV Protection Efforts
Taking proactive measures to guard yourself against UV radiation is key to remain healthy outdoors. The NWS, for example, has used UV index as a way to forecast “the amount of skin damaging UV radiation expected to reach the earth’s surface at the time when the sun is highest in the sky (solar noon).” While efforts to minimize the effect of UV radiation on our health apply to both young and old, age-related changes can make seniors less able to sustain prolonged sun exposures. In fact, seniors are recommended to perform regular skin inspection, stay hydrated, apply generous amount of sunscreen, and wear “protective gears” to fend off the adverse effects of UV radiation.
UV Radiation and Your Eye
However, adverse effects of UV radiation are not limited to skin only. Besides experiencing acute and chronic skin problems, prolonged exposure to solar UV radiation can greatly damage your eyes. As the World Health Organization (WHO) observes, inflammatory reaction to the eye can lead to photokeratitis photoconjunctivitis, pterygium, and even eye cancer. It is estimated that 12 to 15 million people around the globe become blind annually from cataracts. WHO suggests that up to 20% of the reported cases are either caused or enhanced by unprotected sun exposure.
Sunglasses: The Protective Eyewear Against UV Radiation
Sunglasses can be the solution to protect your eyes from dermatological and ocular diseases. However, not all sunglasses offer UV protection. According to American Optometric Association, sunglasses that provide adequate protection should:
- Block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
- Screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light;
- Be perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection;
- Have lenses that are gray for proper color recognition.
Technological Development in Sunglasses
Meanwhile, technological development in sunglasses has also gave way to new lenses. For example, the advancement of clip-on lenses has enabled people to easily add a cover of protection right on top of their prescription eyeglasses. The thin metallic film coated on mirror lenses, on the other hand, also reduces the amount of light that can reach the eye.
When exposed to UV rays, the millions of molecules embedded in photochromic lenses will undergo a chemical process to cope with the intensity of UV rays. Development of many types of lenses, such as polarizing lenses and gradient lenses, has greatly improved UV protection and color perception of sunglasses.