How often do you wear sunglasses? According to the Vision Council, one in four Americans rarely or never wears sunglasses. If you’re shrugging at that statistic, you clearly don’t understand why sunglasses are important for the health of our eyes. Although they’re often categorized as fashion accessories, sunglasses play an important role in protecting our eyes from dangerous UV rays. Whether you’re driving, sunbathing, picnicking, or going for a walk, you should be wearing sunglasses if you’re out during daylight hours.
Why Sunglasses Are Important
Sunglasses protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays, which both have the potential to cause serious damage. If you forgo sunglasses, you’re putting your eyes at risk for the following conditions:
Believe it or not, it’s true! Your eyes can become sunburned, in a way. The condition is known as photokeratitis, and it impacts the cornea and conjunctiva when your eye is exposed to UV rays. Snow blindness (which sometimes afflicts mountaineers) is actually a form of photokeratitis.
The longer the UV exposure, the worse your symptoms will be. Symptoms include pain, redness, swelling, sensitivity, blurry vision, headaches, and (in rare case) temporary vision loss. Luckily, the eyes usually heal themselves within a few days. During the healing process, you must remove your contacts (if you wear them), get out of the sun, and stay in darker rooms. For relief, you can use artificial tears, a cold washcloth, and any medications prescribed by your doctor.
Extended UV exposure can lead to the development of cataracts, a medical condition that causes the lens of the eye to become progressively cloudy. Cataracts also cause blurry vision and may give your vision a yellow/brown tint. Cataracts are common amongst the elderly, but chronic sunlight exposure can increase a person’s risk for cataracts – even if they’re still quite young.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Finally, UV light can contribute to the formation of macular degeneration, a degenerative condition that affects the central part of the retina, causing the distortion or loss of vision. The more your eyes are exposed to UV rays, the higher the danger of damage to the retina, so it’s important to wear sunglasses whenever you’re out in the sun.
Tips for Wearing Sunglasses
- Choose sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you should always buy shades with this feature. In addition, look for ground and polished lenses that are impact resistant and polarized.
- Wear sunglasses during all daylight hours if you’re outside. Some people mistakenly believe that the sun is most dangerous at midday, so they only wear their shades then. In reality, research has shown that the sun is actually twice as damaging for eyes in the morning and late afternoon (source).
- Don’t forget that UV rays can reflect off surfaces and damage your eyes. According to the Vision Council, water reflects up to 100 percent of UV rays and snow reflects up to 85 percent. So if you’re spending a day on the lake or on the slopes, remember to wear your shades.
- The sun is dangerous in winter too. A sunny winter day, especially if there’s snow on the ground, can be very dangerous for your eyes, so don’t forget your sunglasses just because it’s cold outside.
Now that you know why sunglasses are important, do you promise to wear them whenever you’re outside during the day? To further protect yourself from UV rays, wear sunscreen, don a hat, and stay in the shade.
Looking for prescription sunglasses? If you live in southwest Missouri, contact Heffington’s. Since 1975, the Heffington family has been assisting the Springfield community with top-quality eye care and affordable eyeglasses and contacts. One of the unique features of our family-owned business is that we manufacture lenses at our own laboratory, giving us total control over the service and pricing, and we’re happy to pass our savings on to you. To learn more about our products and services, please get in touch with us online, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at 417-869-3937 (Optiland location) or 417-882-3937 (House of Vision location). We look forward to hearing from you!