List of Things That Reflect or Emit Ultraviolet Light Rays and Protecting Your Vision

Latest update: February 9, 2020

The Sun in Ultraviolet Light

It is fairly common knowledge ultraviolet light destroys vision and causes blindness over time. The effects of ultraviolet light are cumulative. How well you protect your eyes when younger will directly affect your vision as you become older. All information on this page has been derived from federal websites, studies, research, archives, etc.

Sources That Emit Ultraviolet Light Rays - Never Look Directly at Them

  • Some halogen, fluorescent, and incandescent lights (found everywhere). Yep, not a good idea to stare directly at any light bulb for long periods of time.
  • Mercury vapor lighting (often used in stadiums and school gyms)
  • Specifically designed UV lights found at many nightclubs
  • Tanning booths 
  • Some types of lasers
  • Sun

Sources That Reflect Ultraviolet Light Rays

  • Pavement
  • Cement, e.g,. sidewalks
  • Water
  • Snow
  • Grass
  • Sand
  • Moon
  • Pretty much anything white in sunlight
  • Aluminum and aluminum-based coatings
From an astronomical point of view, NASA has an interesting page about ultraviolet light at Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum - Ultraviolet Waves.

Environmental Factors Affecting Ultraviolet Exposure

This federal website explains these factors best: FDA direct sub-page. Detailed information for:
  • Geography
  • Altitude
  • Time of year
  • Time of day
  • Weather conditions
The relevant segment is located a little over halfway down their page. Most of it is pretty obvious, though clouds and shade do not protect one as much as people think.

The Obvious as to Contacts, Prescription Glasses, Sunglasses and UV Exposure

As everyone who needs their vision corrected knows, we are always offered a UV light protection coating for our lenses when buying glasses; I always agree to it. Folks who wear contacts are given the same option; the contacts are made of a material that absorbs the ultraviolet light part of the spectrum; however, it should be remembered that the contact does not cover the entire eye.

Wearing sunglasses without UV protection is worse than wearing no glasses at all and can even be dangerous; the eyes can be fooled into dilating, causing maximum and damaging exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Here is an eye-opening (so to speak) article by NASA: Ultraviolet-Blocking Lenses Protect, Enhance Vision. The NASA article is a little off-topic, but the message is clear; do spend whatever time, money, and effort necessary to be sure the sunglasses you buy actually do their job. The wrong sunglasses could ultimately subtract years of vision from your life; or at minimum, cause severe problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts. One really does not want to experience retina injections and/or cataract surgery in their later years.

Ultraviolet Light Phobia

Almost last, but not least. One should not decide to be phobic concerning UV rays. The body needs ultraviolet light to manufacture the vitamin D3 that your body needs in order to stay healthy.

In-Depth, Scientific Research and Studies of Environmental Ultraviolet (UV) Reflectance

For the science and tech oriented: Ultraviolet Radiation Albedo and Reflectance. If so inclined, be prepared to set aside an hour or two.

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