Jul 2, 2024

The Sun and Your Eye Health

We’ve been waiting all winter for it — but the sun is finally shining bright, and the hot weather is here! However, it’s important to know how to enjoy those sunny days carefully. We’ve put together an FAQ with some tips.

How can we keep our eyes safe from the sun?

The best way to keep your eyes safe from UV rays is by wearing sunglasses and a hat when outdoors. The sun is at its strongest between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., so it is important to take extra precautions during this time and stick to the shade. You can also check your local forecast for the UV index. The higher the index reads, the more important it is to be protected. However, even cloudy or overcast days can pose some risk. The UV index can remain high even when the sun is hidden behind the clouds.

What should we wear to protect our eyes when we’re outside on sunny days?

Sunglasses and a hat are your go-to items. When choosing sunglasses, ensure that they fit well and block light from coming in around the lenses. When you purchase sunglasses, ensure that they indicate that they have UV protective lenses that protect from both UVA and UVB rays. If you are affected by an eye condition, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), you may wish to consider melanin or amber-coloured lenses, as they can help increase contrast and make it easier to see. If you have questions about what type of sunglasses might be the best for you, please speak with your optometrist or optician.

When choosing a hat, look for hats with broad, dark brims that keep your eyes in the shade and reduce the amount of glare.

Wearing sunglasses and a hat is a good starting point, but it’s important to protect your eyes from more than just the sun. We also need to get into healthy habits to lower the risk of eye diseases. This includes exercising regularly, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, quitting smoking, and getting regular eye exams.

Why is it important to take care of our eyes in the sun?

The sun emits several types of energy. The most dangerous forms to the eye are ultraviolet radiation (UV) as well as its bright and intense light. You should never look directly at the sun, even when wearing sunglasses. There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. Exposure to these forms of energy can cause vision problems and speed up progression from existing eye conditions. Damage from UV rays happens over a long period of time and is permanent.

Some eye problems that can occur as a result of sun exposure include:

  • Issues with the surface layers of the eye. Overtime, exposure to UVB rays can cause a growth called a pingueculum or a pterygium on the white part of the eye and can cause discomfort and vision problems.
  • Cataracts, or clouding of the lens, can be caused, or worsened by UV rays.
  • Cancer of the eyelid, such as basal or squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the risk of which may increase with prolonged exposure to UV rays without protection.

Where can we go to get our eyes checked & how can someone make an appointment to check their eyes?

You will need to see an optometrist for a routine eye exam. You can use the Canadian Association of Optometrist’s website to help locate one in your area or ask family and friends for a recommendation.

How often should we get our eyes checked?

If you are a healthy adult with no concerns about your eyesight, it’s recommended to get your eyes checked every two years. However, if you are 65 or over, or are someone living with a chronic health issue that can impact eyesight (such as diabetes), you should have your eyes checked once a year. Children should have their first eye exam at about six months old and a subsequent visit between two and three years old to ensure proper vision development. After that, they should be seen by an optometrist every year until they are an adult.

If there is a sudden change to your vision, you experience halos around lights, you have severe pain or suffer an eye injury, head straight to the emergency department. Remember that no concern is too small and it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

How can we reach out to you if we have more questions about eye care?

Our health information line is here to help! Reach us by phone or email to learn more about resources that can help you be the best advocate for your own eye health. You can reach us at or by calling 1.888.626.2995.

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