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While cataracts can potentially affect people of any age, they're most prevalent among those who are over 60, manifesting as a clouding of a person's vision. They‘re more common than you might think and can have a dramatic impact on a person's quality of life. For example, it can impair the ability to read, drive and even watch television. While cataracts are occasionally caused by genetics, most experts consider long-term exposure to UV radiation to be the primary cause. Today, I'll explain how the sun's UV rays can cause cataracts and how you can protect your eyes to avoid developing them.

How The Sun Can Cause Cataracts  

Cataracts form as a result of a chemical change that occurs within the eye's lens. When a person endures long-term exposure to sunlight, the UV radiation from the sun causes the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can start a cascade of disruption leading to a disturbance in the fragile composition of the lens. The result is cataracts, which can form so gradually that most people won't realize it's happening until their vision becomes significantly impaired. Because UV rays are considered the primary cause of cataracts, people who spend inordinate amounts of time in direct sunlight are most vulnerable to developing them.

How To Protect Your Eyes  

While using a powerful sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays is essential for your long-term health, you should take steps to ensure your eyes have adequate UV protection, too. The most effective way to shield your eyes from UV exposure is to wear protective sunglasses. They should be worn throughout the day whenever you go outside (even if you only plan to be outside for a brief time). UVB rays are most intense (and are potentially the most damaging) between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm, the summer and at high altitudes. Also, keep in mind that UV rays can damage your eyes even when it's cloudy outside - UVA rays can penetrate through clouds and windows and are prevalent year round. Most people neglect to wear protective eyewear on cloudy days, not realizing that the sun's UV rays can still penetrate the eyes and form free radicals.

UV Protection For Your Eyes  

Most sunglasses that offer protection from UV radiation will be labeled. Choose a pair that provides protection from 99-100% of both UVA and UVB rays. The sunglasses should also filter as much visible light as possible. For example, skiing and boating are conditions in which the sun's glare can be particularly irritating. A good pair of sunglasses should block most of this visible light. Also, try to buy from a reputable manufacturer. Often, the labeling on unknown brands can be misleading and unreliable. Fortunately, large sunglasses are all the rage these days so you'll look fashionable while looking after your health.

While cataracts can be resolved through surgery and other means, taking preventative measures can help to stop them from forming in the first place. By choosing a good pair of sunglasses that block most UV rays and filter the majority of visible light, you can protect your eyes when you're exposed to the sun.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed] 

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