While sunglasses can add a “cool factor” to your summer style, their main function is to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays and should be a routine part of your outdoor activities. Only about a third of us wear sunglasses regularly, despite the fact that eye damage can occur after just a brief exposure to intense sunlight.
Why should you wear sunglasses?
There are several types of eye damage that can occur from prolonged or excessive exposure to the sun, and which sunglasses can help prevent. Here are our top 5 reasons to wear sunglasses whenever you are outside:
- Prevent skin cancer – The skin around your eyes, including your eyelids, is very thin and sensitive. In addition to age spots and wrinkling that can develop from long-term sun exposure, approximately 10 percent of all skin cancers occur on the eyelid.
- Safeguard against corneal sunburn – Photokeratitis, sometimes called “snow blindness,” is basically a sunburn of the eye itself. It is a temporary condition, usually lasting less than 48 hours, that can be painful and may cause blurred vision or light sensitivity.
- Avert macular degeneration – Exposure to UV rays over time can damage the macula lutea (the part of the eye that enables us to clearly see fine details) and lead to vision deterioration or permanent loss.
- Ward off cataracts – Years of exposure to UV rays can cause the protein in the eye’s lens to clump and thicken, preventing light from passing through it. This clouding of the lens is known as a cataract, and is the leading cause of vision loss in the world.
- Avoid “surfer’s eye” – A pterygium, commonly known as “surfer’s eye,” is a thick tissue growth that can slowly progress across the white of the eye, causing inflammation or reduced vision that may require minor surgery. Being in bright sunlight for long hours – especially when you are on water– increases your risk
What types of sunglasses are best?
The best form of prevention against sun-related eye damage is wearing your sunglasses whenever you’re outdoors (even on cloudy days). Follow these tips to get the best protection for your eyes:
- Larger, wrap-around sunglasses provide the most UV blockage. But whatever shape you choose, make sure they are high-quality – no cheap plastic shades from the bargain bin!
- Shop for a pair with 100 percent UVA and UVB protection from ultraviolet rays.
- Polarized lenses will reduce glare (especially helpful near water), but don’t add any UV protection.
- Lens color doesn’t matter – the UV protectant added to sunglasses is clear, so light-colored lenses will protect as well as darker ones.
Sunglasses can be both safe and stylish
Have fun outdoors this summer, but always make your eye care a priority – UV damage can start in as few as 15 minutes.
In addition to wearing sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat, high-quality sunglasses can help you be both stylish and safe!
Talk to your doctor at Eye Associates about selecting safe sunglasses options for you and your family.
The information in this article should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.