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What to Look for When Buying Sunglasses

Help protect your vision from dangerous UV rays by wearing the best sunglasses for your eyes.

The weather is finally starting to heat up, and we’re sure most of you can’t wait to finally be on the beach with your toes in the sand and the sun at your back. May is UV Awareness Month, and we’re here to shed some light on the best ways to protect your eyes for the summer.

We all know how important it is to shield our skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays by applying sunblock to our exposed skin.

Much like our skin, your eyes are extremely sensitive to the sun’s UV rays too, and it’s just as important to protect your eyes from the sun, as it is your skin. Any amount of continual contact with harmful UV radiation may cause eye damage.

Exposure to harmful UV radiation, even in just a small period of time, could actually result in photokeratitis, also known as sunburn to the eye, resulting in pain, blurred vision, or even temporary vision loss. If the eye is exposed for a much longer period of time, threatening eye diseases such a cataracts or macular degeneration could occur.

The Right Amount of Protection 

The obvious answer on how to avoid getting UV rays in contact with your eyes is to wear sunglasses. But not all sunglasses are created equal.

When shopping around, look for sunglasses that have a UV protection of 100 percent. Surprisingly, the amount of UV protection is unrelated to the color and darkness of the lens. A light colored lens may provide the same UV protection as a darker lens.

To best protect your eyes make sure to select sunglasses that have a shade of UV 400. A UV 400 protection, will block out any and all harmful UV light from entering your eyes with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers.

Also, remember to wear your sunglasses even when you’re in the shade. Although shade reduces the UV ray exposure, your eyes may still be exposed to UV rays reflecting off of other surfaces.

Sunglasses Size and Material

Choosing the size of your sunglasses is just as important as picking the proper lens protection. Sunglasses that offer side protection are more likely to block out dangerous UV light from entering your eyes through the side and back of the glasses.

Oversized or wrap around sunglasses offer the best coverage for the soft tissues inside and outside of your eyes.

Not only will the size of the glasses protect your eyeballs, but they also will protect your eyelids, which are very sensitive and easily susceptible to skin cancer when exposed to harmful UV rays.

Glass lenses offer the best protection because the material is a natural UV protector. However, a much more common lens is a coated plastic lens, which can potentially offer just as much protection for your eyes.

Wearing Sunglasses in the Winter

When most people think of sunglasses, they automatically picture the summer. But wearing sunglasses in the winter months is just as important.

UV rays reflect off snow, which can nearly double the harmful UV rays your eyes are exposed to. Don’t neglect your sunglasses in the winter!

Maintain a Healthy Vision

It’s important to maintain healthy vision by always properly protecting our eyes. Sunglasses give us the best protection for our eyes no matter the season.

Need help picking out the right pair of sunglasses? Find a Vision Source eye doctor near you!

Author Vision Source — Published May 15, 2014

Posted In Eye Health Awareness