Ultraviolet light is all around us. UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that does anything from causing sunburns to making black-light posters glow. The sun is a notable source of ultraviolet radiation, but lamps and some items like arc welding torches also can transmit it.
UV rays fall in the middle of other types of radiation, ranging from very high-energy like X-rays and gamma rays to low-energy radiation, such as radio waves. UV rays are divided into three main groups: UVA rays, UVB rays and UVC rays, advises the American Cancer Society.
Even though UV rays are so common, many people remain unaware of the dangers associated with UV exposure.
True or False: Age makes people more vulnerable to UV exposure and damage to the eyes and skin.
True. The Canadian Association of Optometrists says an estimated 50 percent of lifetime exposure to UV rays occurs before age 18. This is because youngsters tend to spend more time outdoors, have larger pupils, have clearer lenses, and are less likely to wear sunglasses or hats.
True or False: All UV rays are equally damaging.
False: UVA rays are the least powerful, but have the potential to cause premature skin damage and increase the risk of certain eye conditions. UVB rays are more damaging because they give off more energy and are responsible for most skin cancers. UVC rays do not penetrate the atmosphere, so they are not often linked to eye damage, wrinkles or skin cancer.
True or False: A base tan is healthy.
False: No tan is healthy or safe, advises Hackensack Meridian Health system. A sunburn and a suntan are the body’s response to cellular DNA damage from UV radiation. A base tan cannot prevent sunburn.
True or False: Tanning from the sun and tanning beds are equally damaging.
True. There is no such thing as safe tanning, whether from a tanning bed, a sun lamp or the sun itself. The American Academy of Dermatology says just one indoor tanning session can increase one’s risk of developing skin cancer.
True or False: The eyes are most exposed to UV radiation in early morning and late afternoon.
True. Unlike the skin, which is most susceptible to UV rays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., for the eyes the damage occurs early or late in the day.
Get the facts about UV exposure to stay safe all year long.