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UV Safety: Protect Your Skin and Eyes

by R. Carnavale July 19th, 2012 | Health News, Vision
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When it’s hot and sunny outside, your skin and eyes need extra protection. That’s because ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer, age spots, wrinkles, leathery skin, and a weakened immune system. In addition, ultraviolet rays can damage cells in the eyes and cause cataracts and macular degeneration.

Here are five tips to protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s harmful rays:

1. Wear protective clothing year-round. Long-sleeved shirts and pants, broad-brimmed hats, and UV-resistant wrap-around sunglasses will protect skin and eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays.

2. Apply a generous amount of broad spectrum sunscreen often. The recommended amount: one ounce every two hours, even if the sunscreen is labeled water-resistant. “Broad spectrum” means that the sunscreen will protect the skin from both ultraviolet-A and ultraviolet-B rays.

The FDA recommends people use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, which will protect skin against 92 percent of the UVB rays.  Note that a sunscreen with an SPF of 20 provides 95 percent UV-B protection, while a sunscreen with an SPF of 100 provides 99 percent protection from UVB rays.

3. Stay out of the sun and seek shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. These are the peak burn hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

4. Note the following conditions, which make people more likely to experience the harmful effects of UV radiation:

  • Using birth control pills, tetracycline, sulphathizole, cyclamates, or antidepressants
  • Using anti-dandruff shampoos with coal tar distillates
  • Being at a higher altitude, where there’s less atmosphere to absorb UV radiation
  • Being near surfaces that reflect the sun — water, snow, and sand

5. Finally, check the Environmental Protection Agency’s UV Index when you plan your outdoor activities.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.