Facts About Sun Exposure

By Larry Anderson
There is significant sun exposure on the golf course.
There is significant sun exposure on the golf course.

Since most golf courses are not inside and do not have sufficient tree cover to completely block out rays from the sun, sun exposure is a fact of life for many golfers, who can spend as many as 5 or 6 hours in the sun during the course of a typical day of golf. As a result, they should take action to reduce their exposure to the sun by wearing sunscreen, caps and sunglasses.

Sun is Life

While the sun's rays can be damaging, sun also is a necessary part of life. The sun is the primary source of most people's vitamin D, which aids in the absorption of calcium to build and maintain strong, healthy bones. However, just a few minutes in the sun gives people as much sun exposure as they need.

Ultraviolet Rays

The three ultraviolet rays that sunlight contains are UVA, UVB and UVC. The most common are UVA rays, which cause skin to age and wrinkle and contribute to skin cancer. UVA rays cause the skin to tan and become darker, but such tans do not protect you from the sun. UVB rays are the second type of ultraviolet light, and while most are captured by the ozone layer, they can cause eye damage, sunburn and damage to the immune system. UVC rays would be even more dangerous than the other two types, but they do not reach the earth.

All Sun is Not Equal

In the northern hemisphere, the sun's rays are strongest from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which is when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. As a result, it is during this time that there is the most potential for damage from the sun. It is important to remember, too, that cool weather, wind and clouds do not reduce sun exposure. While the ambient climate may be more comfortable, UV rays travel through the clouds and can cause skin damage.

Sun Can Damage the Eyes

While the skin is often the first indication of sun exposure--through burning or blistering, for example--ultraviolet rays also can be hard on the eyes. One main problem is cataracts, which cause cloudy vision because of a loss of eye lens transparency. While surgery can cure cataracts, many people deal with the diminished vision before getting it done. When cataracts are not treated, they can result in blindness. The sun also can cause skin cancer around the eyes and hurt the macula of the eye.

Exposure Causes Cancer

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one in five Americans will get skin cancer during their lifetime. One of the main risk factors for skin cancer is sun exposure. The most serious type of skin cancer is melanoma, and there appears to be a link between sunburns during the childhood years and melanoma that appears later in life. Sun exposure also can cause basal and squamous cell carcinoma, which are types of skin cancer that are less deadly than melanoma, but can lead to disfigurement.

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