UV radiation – How does UV radiation cause cataracts?

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. They’re caused by proteins in the lens of the eye breaking down and clumping together, which in turn causes the lens to become cloudy and will eventually lead to blindness in the affected eye(s). 

The risk of cataracts can be dramatically increased by prolonged exposure to UV rays. The sun’s UV rays passing through the eye cause the proteins in the lens of your eye to break down (and clump together) more quickly, ultimately preventing light from passing through the lens and causing vision loss. 

The risk of developing cataracts as a result of exposure to UV rays can be reduced by protecting your eyes when you’re in direct sunlight. Wear hats and sunglasses that have 100% UVA & UVB protection. Wrap-around sunglasses are a good choice as they prevent the periphery of your eyes from UV rays too. It’s important to wear sunglasses in winter, too, because even though the sun isn’t as warm, UV rays are still present, and they can reflect and bounce off water and snow. 

The best way to ensure you’re correctly caring for your eyes and fully aware of your eye health is to have regular eye tests and follow any advice from your optician. This will ensure that, if you do develop cataracts, they can be detected and treated before they get too bad.  

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