Eye health: Can UV cause cataracts?

Can UV cause cataracts?

Long days, warm evenings, weekends in the garden or the park. Summer is a time of year when most of us love to be outside enjoying the sunshine. You just can’t beat those easy-going, relaxed, sunny vibes.

However, while we hasten to spend as much time outside as possible, we must also take precautions to protect ourselves from sun damage caused by UV rays. One question our patients often ask is, ‘Can UV cause cataracts?’

Let’s explore the link, symptoms, and how you can stay safe in the sun.

What are Cataracts?

Cataracts are an age-related eye condition, most common in people over 60 which typically develops gradually as you age.

This is when the lens in your eye, which is normally clear, becomes cloudy or opaque. It’s caused by proteins in your lens breaking down and clumping together, affecting the quality of your vision. It usually only affects one eye at a time rather than both simultaneously.

Signs and symptoms of cataracts

The signs and symptoms of cataracts typically develop gradually over time:

● Cloudy and blurry vision; often the first and most common symptom.
● Difficulty seeing at night; activities such as driving at night or reading in low light can become difficult.
● Sensitivity to light and glare; bright lights can seem more intense than usual or have a halo effect.
● Fading or yellowing of colours; they can seem less vibrant.

These symptoms can also be caused by other eye conditions. If you’re experiencing any of them, it’s important to book an eye examination to get a professional diagnosis from our experience optometrists.

How do UV rays cause cataracts?

UV rays from sunshine exacerbate the breakdown of proteins in your natural lens, which kicks off the early development of cataracts. These rays can also damage cell membranes in the lens, making them weaker. Additionally, UV rays can lead to the buildup of yellow pigments, which
contributes to lens discolouration.

Protecting your eyes

It’s not all bad news, though! When it comes to your eye health, a belt and braces approach is worth it.

If you’re wondering, “Are cataracts preventable?” The answer is yes, to some degree. While there are other risk factors, such as genetics, one simple yet effective way to protect your eyes and enjoy the sunshine is by wearing a high-quality pair of UV protection sunglasses.

All our sunglasses carry the CE UV400 or British Standard Mark (BSI Kitemark) with lenses that offer 100% UV protection. In terms of sunglasses frames, we recommend oversized and wraparound styles for the most coverage around your eyes to completely shield them from the

Additionally, your everyday prescription eyewear can protect your eyes
from UV too. The Hi-Vision Meiryo lens coating from our lens supplier
Hoya, provides 100% UV protection on the front and extra protection on
the back of the lens, too.

The importance of regular eye examinations

It’s important for you to attend regular eye examinations as they are the
first port of call for diagnosing cataracts. It also means over time; we can
monitor changes in your vision and any cataract development. If cataracts
are severely affecting your vision, we’ll refer you for cataract surgery. It’s
a simple procedure that’s typically very straightforward and effective.

Contact us for more information

Contact our opticians in Whitley Bay if you have any concerns about your eye health or if you’d like to learn more about cataract symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments.