With summer still here, it's important to take a closer look at UV rays. UV rays can be good for you, but only in small amounts!
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Ultraviolet radiation (UV) comes from the sun and a few other places, like tanning beds and special ultraviolet lights. Most of the sun’s radiation is blocked by the atmosphere, so only a small percentage reaches the Earth. When you spend time outside in the sunlight, the UV rays that do make it here from the sun cause your body to produce vitamin D, a necessary nutrient for a healthy body. Just a few minutes of sunlight a day can produce enough vitamin D in your body to improve your mood and give you energy. The right amount of vitamin D can also help lower the risks of heart disease and high blood pressure. So have fun in the sun for at least a few minutes a day!
However, UV radiation can also be harmful, especially when you expose yourself to it for extended periods of time. Firstly, UV radiation causes sunburns. Prolonged exposure to sunlight damages skin cells and produces the unpleasant feeling of a sunburn. UV rays are known to cause the development of skin cancers, like melanoma and carcinomas. UV radiation can suppress the immune system, increasing the likelihood of cancerous cell growth in your skin. Too much tanning is not a good idea, either. This can lead to sun-damaged prematurely aging skin and wrinkles. Always wear sunscreen and try to find some shade when you are outside for extended periods. Remember that UV rays are only good for you in small amounts—too much and you might end up with a burn, or worse.
Along with your skin, UV light can also damage your eyes. Most of the ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is absorbed by the front tissue of your eyes. This can cause damage to your corneas and increase your risk for macular degeneration and cataracts. If your eyes are exposed to a large amount of sunlight in just a short period of time, you might experience a condition called photokeratitis. While this has no lasting effects, it is painful and uncomfortable, usually resulting in redness, burning, and watering of the eyes. It is similar to a sunburn on your skin. If you spend a lot of time outside, you could suffer long-term damage to your eyes as well. Cumulative exposure to UV radiation can result in burns to your corneas, which will affect your sight. You can also develop cataracts, a blurred or clouded lens on the front of the eye.
This is why wearing sunglasses is a must! Whether you spend a great deal of time outside, or you only have a short commute, your shades can protect your eyes from UV radiation damage. Just like putting on your sunscreen before heading outside, make sunglasses a priority. Make protecting your eyes a priority.