Bright Ideas – UV Safety Month Shines Light on Skin and Eye Dangers

The skin is the body’s largest organ. It protects against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. Yet, some of us don’t consider the necessity of protecting our skin.
During UV Safety Month, Federal Occupational Health, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, encourages people to take stock of how they’re taking care of our skin.
The need to protect the skin from the sun has become very clear over the years, supported by several studies linking overexposure to the sun with skin cancer. The harmful ultraviolet rays from both the sun and indoor tanning sunlamps can cause many other complications besides skin cancer, such as eye problems, a weakened immune system, age spots, wrinkles, and leathery skin.
There are simple, everyday steps you can take to safeguard your skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun:
Wear proper clothing. Protective clothing includes long-sleeved shirts and pants. Also, remember to protect your head and eyes with a hat and UV-resistant sunglasses. You can fall victim to sun damage on a cloudy day as well as in the winter, so dress accordingly all year round.
Avoid the burn. Sunburns significantly increase one’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. It is especially important that children be kept from burning as well.
Go for the shade. Stay out of the sun, if possible, between the peak burning hours, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization, are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. You can head for the shade, or make your own shade with protective clothing — including a broad-brimmed hat, for example.
Use extra caution when at higher altitudes. You can experience more UV exposure at higher altitudes because there is less atmosphere to absorb UV radiation.
Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen. The broad-spectrum variety protects against overexposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. The FDA recommends using sunscreens that are not only broad spectrum, but that also have a sun protection factor (SPF) value of at least 15 for protection against sun-induced skin problems. Then re-apply sunscreen throughout the day, especially after sweating or swimming.
Protect your eyes. UV rays can also penetrate the structures of your eyes and cause cell damage. According to the CDC, some of the more common sun-related vision problems include cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium (a non-cancerous growth of the conjunctiva that can obstruct vision). Effective sunglasses should block glare, block 99{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} to 100{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of UV rays, and have a wraparound shape to protect eyes from most angles.
Use the UV index. When planning your outdoor activities, you can decide how much sun protection you need by checking the Environmental Protection Agency’s UV index, which measures the daily intensity of UV rays from the sun on a scale of 1 to 11. A low UV index requires minimal protection, whereas a high UV index requires maximum protection.