Understanding and Preventing UV Damage As You Age

Understanding and Preventing UV Damage As You Age

It’s no secret that the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause detrimental health effects.

UV rays can penetrate and damage skin cells, which could lead to cancer, and they can also modify lens proteins, which can lead to the development of vision problems like cataracts.

This makes sun protection all the more important, especially given the prevalence of skin and eye problems globally.

A report by Cancer Research UK found that the number of skin cancer cases in the country among adults aged 55 and above has increased by 195% since the 1990s. Meanwhile, around 400,000 cataract surgeries are done every day in England, according to the NHS. 

With the numbers rising, taking precautionary measures against the sun has become more paramount than ever. This is especially true for older populations, whose bodies may be more susceptible to UV damage. Below, we look at how UV damage affects older adults and how you can prevent it.

Effects of UV damage on older bodies

According to the National Institutes of Health, the functional abilities of the eyes decrease as we get older. For instance, corneal fragility increases with age, which could weaken the cornea’s UV defences and make it more susceptible to sun damage.

This can increase the risk of developing eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration. Research published in MDPI also mentioned that as the skin ages, its defensive functions are also reduced, making sun protection all the more crucial for older populations.

Here are some tips to help you prevent the increased risks of UV damage:

Tips for preventing UV damage for older adults

Eat vitamin-rich fruits

As you enter your golden years, it’s important to consume foods packed with nutrients and vitamins that can strengthen your eye and skin health.

For instance, fruits that are rich in vitamins A, C, and E provide natural skin protection that can help prevent harmful UV rays from damaging your skin, helping reduce wrinkles and allowing you to have a youthful and radiant glow.

These vitamins are also disease-fighting antioxidants, which can reduce oxidative damage to the eyes and prevent glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Eating a combination of papaya, orange, and mangos can help you access these nutrients.

Alternatively, you can even combine these fruits into a healthy salad or smoothie and get all their benefits at once.

Wear sunglasses

When you’re heading outside, it’s important to put on a pair of sunglasses from reputable brands for guaranteed UV protection for the eyes.

Major retailer Sunglass Hut offers various sunglasses through its physical and online stores in the UK, such as the Costa Sullivan and Persol PO3292S. These sunnies are both equipped with polarised lenses for reduced glare and improved visual comfort.

If you wear prescription glasses, you can also choose to have prescription lenses installed in your sunglasses to help you get eye protection without sacrificing the vision correction that often comes with age.

That way, you won’t have to deal with possible UV damage as you enjoy a stroll in the park or enjoy other daily activities.

Apply sunscreen

Since the skin becomes thinner and more susceptible to UV damage as you get older, applying protective sunscreen is crucial to avoid sunburn and skin cancer.

The NHS recommends using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 for maximum sun protection. EltaMD offers a sunscreen line that is dermatologist-approved and recommended by celebrities like 55-year-old Kyle Richards.

The EltaMD UV Clear Tinted Face sunscreen has an SPF 46 for guaranteed protection. It also contains niacinamide to reduce oil production, plus it’s developed for those with sensitive skin. 

As you get older, your body – particularly the skin and eyes – may become more susceptible to sun damage.

Be sure to follow these tips to help you enjoy your golden years. For more articles like this, visit the Life Over 50 website for more health tips.


  • Michelle

    As a passionate advocate for women's health and beauty, Michelle has dedicated her life to empowering women of all ages. As a previous beauty therapist, Michelle keeps to a regular beauty and fitness regime. At 53 she's has gained a lot of experience from her previous business and loves writing on topics that offer advice and help other middle-aged women, especially on health and beauty

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