Did you know that the risk of UV damage to your eyes correlates with your geographic location?
For example, someone who is on vacation in Alaska is in less of a risk zone than someone who is sunbathing in Florida.
In the United States, the strength of UV radiation is measured by the UV Index.The National Weather Service calculates the UV Index daily so that people in all areas of the country know how at risk they are. Season, variations in weather, cloud cover, elevation and depletion of the ozone layer are all factors that determine the daily UV index, which is measured on a scale from 1 to 11+.
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What the UV Index Scale Means:
0-2: Low Risk
This means you’re in a low-risk zone. Just because the risk is low, remember that it’s still important to wear sunglasses on sunny days, or when you’ll be around snow, water or any reflective surface. Don’t forget your sunscreen if you easily burn!
3-5: Moderate Risk
This means you’re in a moderate-risk zone. Ensure you wear sunglasses and avoid being in the sun during the afternoon hours when sunlight is strongest.
6-7: High Risk
This means you’re in a high-risk zone. You run the risk of harm if you venture into the sun unprotected. Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, and use at least SPF 15 sunscreen. Try to stay inside during the afternoon hours.
8-10: Very High Risk
This means you’re in a very high-risk zone. You should take extra measures to stay protected. Stay in the shade whenever possible, and always be armed with sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat and at least SPF 15.
11+: Extreme Risk
This means you’re in an extreme-risk zone. You need to take all measures to stay protected, including sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat and re-application every couple hours of a sunscreen with at least 15 SPF protection. If you’re on the beach, UV rays are increased, as the sun’s rays reflect off bright sand and water. In a beach situation, polarized sunglasses are best. Stay in the shade whenever possible.
The important lesson to take away is that low risk or high, your eyes and skin must be protected from UV rays. Sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UV protection and at least SPF 15 sunscreen will keep you healthy and having fun in the sun.
UV Rays On Cloudy Days
We’ve talked a lot about sun safety on days when the sun is its brightest, but did you know you need to guard yourself from UV rays when it’s cloudy?
UV rays can penetrate cloud cover, which means sunscreen and sunglasses need to be a daily routine, rather than a day-in-the-sun routine. On a day that is slightly overcast, UV levels are nearly the same as a totally clear day. The amount of UV rays is reduced on an overcast day, and as clouds cross in front of the sun UV levels decrease, but you can still get a sunburn. Determine the UV Index in your area so you know how to prepare.
That being said, you probably don’t need SPF 110 on an overcast day. The EPA recommends SPF 15 on days with a low UV Index; however, if you are very prone to burning, up the SPF to meet your skin’s needs. If you use a daily moisturizer, consider one that has SPF; being protected will then be a part of your everyday routine.
Sunglasses are a must, even on cloudy days. Don’t go driving in the dark, though. There are certain lens tints that enhance vision and create contrast on an overcast or cloudy day. Try amber, brown, light blue, rose or yellow-tinted sunglasses for low-light situations.
Make sun safety an every day priority, rather than a sunny day priority. If you go outside unprotected, you could end up with a burn without realizing it!
More Resources on UV Rays