What are the risks of UV light?

Most of us know that too much UV light—typically from sun exposure—will damage your skin, but it also causes significant harm to your eyes. Failing to protect your eyes from UV light, even on cloudy days, can lead to a host of common eye conditions, including:


Cataracts develop when protein builds up in the lens of your eye, making it cloudy. More than half of all people over 65 have age-related cataracts in the UK. The World Health Organization estimates that 20% of those are related to UV light exposure. The great news is that surgery to replace the cloudy lens with a clear artificial one is an effective way to successfully restore vision.

Learn more about cataracts.


Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD usually affects the older population, but can develop early on in those who’ve been exposed to excessive UV light. The leading cause of blindness in people aged over 65, there are two types of AMD: wet and dry. Wet AMD requires urgent treatment but can be reversed with injections if caught early. Unfortunately, there’s no effective treatment for dry AMD.

Learn more about AMD.


A non-cancerous growth forming on the outer tissue of the eyes, the chances of developing a pterygium increase significantly with prolonged exposure to UV light. Surfers are at high risk of developing this particular eye condition due to the glare directly from the sun and as it reflects off of the sea. Pterygiums are common in people who live in warm climates or work outside regularly.


A white or yellow bump on the while on the white of the eye, a pinguecula usually only results in mild symptoms. But in some instances, it can lead to Dry Eye, which can be very sore and irritating.


As a result of short-term, high-intensity exposure to UV light, photokeratitis happens when the eye is sunburnt. A classic example might be when light reflects off of snow at higher altitudes where the atmosphere is thinner. The condition is sore, painful eyes, blurred vision, and even temporary vision loss.

Read our blog post about protecting your eyes in the sun.

Ask an expert

If you’re concerned about the effects of UV light on your eyes, book an eye exam today or call us for more information.