Wearing sunglasses is one of the coolest ways to maintain your vision health. It’s such a good idea, the National Eye Institute (NIH) included wearing sunglasses as one of their five recommendations for Healthy Vision Month, along with getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Exposing your eyes to the sun’s strong rays can cause severe damage and lead to a lot of different problems. Keeping sunglasses on is an easy way to protect yourself and your family, just make sure you purchase the right kind.
Protect your eyes from these scary conditions
Sunglasses can help protect your eyes from the sun’s rays damaging the cornea, lens, retina and other parts of your eyes. UV exposure for many hours or over the years can cause serious eye damage, eye conditions or worsen the symptoms of these conditions. Certain types of cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration have all been linked to extended exposure to ultraviolet rays. The NIH reports that 20% of cataract cases are caused by extended UV exposure. Cataracts and macular degeneration can result in vision loss.
Other conditions include pingueculae, pterygium and photokeratitis. Pingueculae and pterygium are both growths on your eye’s conjunctiva (the clear covering over the white part of your eye). Photokeratitis, also called snow blindness, is like having sunburned eyes, or more technically, a sunburned cornea. But even though it has the alternative name of snow blindness, you don’t need to be around snow to develop the condition. Photokeratitis, caused by overexposure to UV rays, is painful and results in a temporary loss of vision. These all sound terrible, but we know they can be prevented with proper sunglasses.
Now let’s make sure you’re getting the protection you need by choosing the right kind of sunglasses.
Choose wisely, check labels
When deciding what sunglasses to buy, choose a pair that blocks out 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Also, consider a pair that wraps around your eyes to provide more coverage. Polarized lenses are a popular choice because they reduce glare, especially useful when you’re around water or snow. But still make sure they have the 100% UV protection.
With sunglasses that have dark tinted lens, still look for a 100% UV protection label, because a dark lens doesn’t always mean protection. It’s the material of the lens or the way the lens are treated that make them block the UV rays. Similarly, the price doesn’t guarantee UV protection either. So don’t assume an expensive pair has the protection you need or an inexpensive pair doesn’t have the protection you need.
Overall, make sure they fit properly so you’re getting as much protection from the harmful rays as possible. And if you aren’t sure your sunglasses have the proper UV protection, use your eye doctor as a resource.
Still need protection on cloudy days
Even though the summer has arrived and the sun is bursting, remember to wear your sunglasses not only in the warm months but throughout the year. You might not think to grab your sunglasses when it’s overcast, but the sun’s rays can be just as harmful on cloudy days, too.
If you haven’t already, create the habit of putting on your sunglasses every time you walk outside, and make sunglasses a part of your healthy vision lifestyle. We wish you a happy summer!