Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun increases your risk of developing eye conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration and even eye cancer. So often people go to great lengths to protect their skin from the sun’s dangerous UVA and UVB rays, but they neglect to protect their eyes. Wearing sunglasses isn’t simply about comfort or to keep you from squinting – sunglasses can protect your eyes from damage from the sun’s UV rays that could lead to vision loss, and could prevent you from needing cataract surgery or other eye treatments later in life.
Protect your eyes and save your vision by wearing sunglasses any time you are outside. Not sure what to look for in sunglasses? Here are a check out our sunglasses guide:
- Look for sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of ultraviolet rays. This is the most important factor to consider when buying sunglasses. If you don’t select sunglasses with UV Protection, you aren’t doing your eyes any good. Wraparound sunglasses are ideal, as they will also block rays from entering from the side. UV protection has nothing to do with how dark the tint of your sunglasses is.
- Select sunglasses with impact-resistant lenses. While no lens is truly unbreakable, look for sunglasses with plastic or polycarbonate plastic lenses. These are more likely to resist shatter when hit. Polycarbonate plastic lenses are used in many sport sunglasses because they are the strongest lenses, but they also scratch easily. If you go with polycarbonate lenses, look for a pair with a scratch-resistant coating.
- Check the optical quality of sunglasses. You want sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays, but you also want to be able to see well when wearing your sunglasses. To test the optical quality of sunglasses, hold them at a comfortable distance from your eye and look through them at a tile floor. Move the sunglasses right to left and up and down. Do the lines of the tile pattern move? If so, choose another pair of sunglasses. If the lenses are of high optical quality, the lines of the tiles shouldn’t move.
Now that you know what to look for, here are a few reminders about wearing sunglasses:
- Wear sunglasses, even on cloudy days. Though clouds may eliminate brightness from the sun, UV rays can still pass through the clouds and cause damage to your eyes.
- Protect your eyes in all seasons. Don’t be fooled into thinking you should only wear sunglasses or a hat in the summer. The sun emits UV rays year round.
- Pay attention to peak sun times. The sun’s UV rays are strongest between the hours of 10am and 2pm. It is best to avoid being outdoors during these hours. If you must be outside during peak sun hours, always wear proper protection.
- Wear eye protection when skiing as well as when tanning in a tanning bed. UV rays are strongest at higher altitudes. Tanning beds also emit UV rays and proper eye protection should be worn when tanning and skiing as well.
The sun’s rays are very dangerous when we are overexposed to them, but minimal exposure to natural light is healthy. Some research suggests our eyes require some exposure to sunlight each day so that our bodies are able to maintain normal sleep-wake cycles. No matter what, always take your sunglasses with you when you go outside. Cataracts, macular degeneration, eye cancer and other conditions may result from overexposure to the sun. Any of these conditions can lead to vision loss.
When considering your eye care, be sure to stay up to date with the latest news and information about our life-changing services at Key-Whitman Eye Center. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay connected!