Sunglasses make more than a fashion statement — they also keep your eyes safe from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. That’s why choosing the right sunglasses is an essential part of keeping your eyes healthy.
You know how important it is to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays. But after you slather on the sun block, make sure to protect your eyes too. Slip on a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from sunburn, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, blindness, and even cancer of the eyelids.
According to our optometrists, many people don't realize the importance of protecting their eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Although you can't see it, you should always protect your eyes from overexposure to UV radiation. Don’t be fooled by overcast skies. Sunlight can harm eyes in any season, not just summer. Even on a cloudy day, UV light from the sun can cause sunburn on the cornea of your eyes. It can also cause blurred vision, redness, and irritation.
Before Heading Outdoors:
- Make sure your sunglasses provide 100% UV protection from both UVA and UVB rays. You can get lenses with UV coating, and polycarbonate lenses have built-in UV coverage.
- Consider photochromic or polarized lenses. Photochromic lenses, like sunsync™ lenses, change from clear to dark automatically when exposed to UV rays. Polarized lenses reduce or eliminate glare and reflections from the sun. You can have coatings added to the lenses of your sunglasses and block 100% of UV rays.
- Go online to check the UV index in your area. Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's SunWise Program for the latest UV index information.
Sunglasses for Kids
Children and teens also need to protect their eyes from the sun. Golden Eye optometrists say we get 75-80% of our UV exposure before we turn 18. It's especially important that kids wear sunglasses from an early age.
Choose the Best Sunglasses for You
You want sunglasses that are fashionable—but they should also provide maximum UV protection for your eyes and fit your lifestyle.
- Go for big frames. Larger frames and wrap-around styles provide extra UV protection by blocking rays that come in from the side.
- Think about lens color. You may want to go with gray or green lenses because they're neutral and don't change color. If you want to see more contrast, choose brown. Just keep in mind that brown may distort colors a bit.
- Consider your lifestyle. If you're active in sports, your doctor can help you select sunglasses and lenses that can protect your eyes and help optimize your performance.
More Simple Steps for Keeping Your Eyes Safe
- Always wear your sunglasses when you’re outside. This is particularly important during peak sunlight hours, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when rays are the strongest. Also, be sure to wear your sunglasses when you’re at higher altitudes, where UV light can be especially intense.
- Wear sunglasses even when it’s cloudy. Just as doctors recommend sunscreen on cloudy days, eye care professionals recommend people wear sunglasses even when it isn’t sunny out. That’s because UV rays can penetrate through thin clouds and haze.
- A wide-brimmed hat can also help block some UV rays from getting into your eyes.
- Wear sunglasses year-round. Your eyesight can be affected by sunlight in any season, not just summer. You need the same protection on the ski slopes in January as you do on the beach in August.
- Another bonus to wearing sunglasses: They can help reduce the amount of wrinkles around the eyes. The skin of the eyelids and around the eyes is very thin and susceptible to sun damage. And wearing sunglasses reduces squinting, which can also lead to wrinkles.
Considering contacts that offer UV protection? So be sure to wear non-corrective sunglasses when your contacts are in.