Man wearing prescription sunglasses

Shedding Light on UV: How It Affects Your Eyes

As Kansas greets the vibrant hues of spring and the golden warmth of summer, our spirits soar with the prospect of outdoor adventures. Yet, amidst this seasonal joy, there's a silent hazard lurking in the brilliant daylight—UV rays and their potential threat to our eye health.

The EyeDoctors Optometrists invite you on a journey to uncover the mysteries of UV light and its effects on our eyes, providing expert insights on how to enjoy Kansas’s scenic beauty while keeping your eyes protected and healthy.

Just How Harmful is UV Light?

While we slather sunscreen to shield our skin from UV rays, our eyes, too, need protection from these invisible waves of energy. UV light doesn't just burn our skin; it can also cause issues within the delicate structures of our eyes, from the superficial layers of the cornea down to the deep, vision-critical regions like the retina.

Let's embark on an enlightening path to understanding how UV rays interact with our eyes and the proactive steps we can take to safeguard our most cherished sense—sight.

UV's Hidden Dangers: Common Eye Problems

Adventuring under the sun can inadvertently expose our eyes to UV light, leading to several ocular conditions. Knowledge is power, and understanding these potential threats is our first line of defense.


Just like our skin, our eyes can suffer from sunburn. Known as photokeratitis, this temporary yet painful condition reminds us that even our eyes are vulnerable to UV damage. Lasting a few days, symptoms include painful, watery, red eyes. While the discomfort fades, ocular sunburn can have long-lasting impacts on our eyesight and eye health.

Pterygium and Pinguecula

The vast Kansas plains and water bodies can be deceptive, reflecting UV rays and leading to growths like pterygium and pinguecula on the eye’s surface. These growths, though often non-threatening, can be a nuisance, causing irritation or potentially impairing vision.

Pinguecula are bumps that grow on the conjunctiva, the white part of the eye. They are benign and often don’t require much in the way of treatment unless you want them removed for cosmetic reasons.

Pterygia, also known as Surfer’s Eye, is a different story. Pterygia are fleshy patches of skin that start growing on the conjunctiva but can spread over the surface of the eye, eventually impacting vision as it blocks the cornea. When this happens, surgery is required to remove the pterygium.

Cataracts and Clouded Vision

Cataracts cloud the eye's lens, obscuring our vision like a dusty Kansas storm. UV exposure accelerates the wear and tear on our lenses by breaking down the proteins in our eyes, hastening the onset of cataracts, and dimming or blurring our sight. Once this happens, the only treatment is cataract surgery.

Increased Risk of Macular Degeneration

The risk of macular degeneration, where the central vision blurs and fades, is amplified by UV exposure. This condition can gradually rob us of our ability to see life's details, making it imperative to shield our eyes from UV rays. Once you have macular degeneration, there is no cure. If you don’t treat and manage the condition quickly, it can lead to permanent vision loss.

Cancers and Carcinomas

The skin around our eyes is among the body's most sensitive, making it a prime target for UV-induced cancers. Both basal and squamous cell carcinomas are associated with exposure to UV light. Protecting this delicate area is crucial to prevent serious health complications.

The Importance of Protecting Your Eyes

There are several simple things you can do to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Embracing sunglasses with a UV400 rating is a great way to block out harmful UV light while still allowing you to take in the scenic beauty of spring and summer. Wearing hats with broad brims helps further shield your eyes, with the bonus of shading the skin around them. Finally, applying sunscreen around the eyes is a must to keep your sensitive eyelids from getting sunburnt. These are valuable tools in our arsenal to defend against UV light's invisible threat to our eyesight.

Your Ally in Vision Health: The EyeDoctors Optometrists

Enjoying Kansas's spring and summer seasons doesn't have to compromise your eye health. With The EyeDoctors Optometrists by your side, you can navigate the sun's challenges confidently. Let us guide you towards optimal eye health with our expert care and state-of-the-art protective eyewear, ensuring your vision remains sharp and your eyes, healthy.

With a curated selection of UV-blocking sunglasses and personalized eye care across our 22 Kansas locations, we’re here to ensure your eyes are shielded from the sun’s hidden dangers.

Use our virtual try-on feature to find frames that are just your style!

Schedule an Appointment

Council Grove
Council Grove
North Topeka
Junction City
West Emporia
Olathe Mur-Len
Gage Topeka
Topeka South
North Valley Topeka
East Topeka
Lawrence North