Feature Article

Ultraviolet radiation and the eye

Andrew Apel, Nathan Walker
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Exposure to UV radiation can have many adverse health effects, and the incidence of sun induced degenerative and neoplastic changes in the eye and surrounding structures continues to increase. Ocular sun protection is of prime importance.

Key Points

  • Solar keratitis is the most common problem arising from acute exposure to UV radiation.
  • Many eye diseases are caused by chronic exposure to UV radiation. Degenerative disorders may be irritating and at times visually disabling. Neoplasia of the ocular structures has a high degree of ocular, and even patient, morbidity.
  • The combination of wraparound, UV-absorbing sunglasses and a broad brimmed hat provides the best protection against ocular exposure to UV radiation. Shade is a useful method of protecting the skin, but it only protects a person’s eyes when he or she is facing a shaded area.
  • The high cost and dark tinting of a pair of sunglasses are not indicators of an ability to provide greater protection against UV radiation. All Australian sunglasses must comply with Australian Standard 1067.