UV radiation – How does UV radiation cause cataracts?

Cataracts are the foremost cause of blindness in the world(1). They’re caused by a breaking down, unravelling and pigmentation of the proteins in the eye’s natural lens, which clouds the lens and will eventually lead to blindness in the eye, or eyes, affected.

The risk of cataracts can be dramatically increased by the prolonged exposure of the eye to UV rays(2). The sun’s UV rays passing through the eye accelerate the break-down, and resultant clumping, of the protein in the eye’s lens, ultimately preventing light from passing through the lens and causing blindness.

This risk of the deterioration of the eye’s natural lens, caused by UV rays, can be reduced by protecting your eyes when you’re in direct sunlight. Wear hats, and sunglasses with lenses that have 100% UVA & UVB protection. Wrap-around sunglasses are also advisable. Additionally, it’s important to remember to wear sunglasses in the winter as well as the summer; as, despite the fact that the sun isn’t as warm, UV rays are still present, and if it’s snowy, these can reflect and bounce up from the snow as well.

The best way to ensure that you’re correctly caring for your eyes, and to be fully aware of your eye health, is to have regular eye exams. Regular comprehensive eye exams, and following your optician’s advice, are the best way to prevent, detect and treat cataracts.

 

References

  1. World Health Organization: Blindness and vision impairment prevention: Priority eye diseases: Cataract
  2. yoursightmatters.com: UV rays and cataract formation

Other related questions

  • Colour – Do cataracts affect colour vision?

  • Symptoms – Can you see cataracts?

  • Vertigo – Can cataracts cause vertigo?

  • LASIK surgery – Can a person with cataracts have LASIK surgery?

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