Sunglasses are a fun and stylish fashion accessory and meant to do much more than just shade your eyes from glare on a bright day. The right pair of sunglasses is an important part of your sun care routine that can protect your eyes from damaging UV rays.
Here’s why you should make wearing sunglasses part of your daily sun care routine.
Short-Term Effects of Sun Exposure
We all know that the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays found in sunlight can cause sunburn on our skin. Those same rays can also cause short-term irritation to your eyes. This condition is known as photokeratitis and occurs when the lining of the cornea, the part of the eye that covers the iris and pupil, becomes swollen and inflamed.
Photokeratitis can leave your eyes feeling gritty, as though they have a foreign substance in them. It can also make your eyes sensitive to light and cause them to become red and watery. These uncomfortable symptoms usually fade over time, just like a sunburn does.
Long-Term Effects of Sun Exposure
Your eyes can slowly become seriously damaged from repeated exposure to UV rays. Ultraviolet radiation can damage the retina, the part of the eye responsible for vision and evidence suggests that this kind of damage plays a part in age-related macular degeneration, a gradual loss of vision common among the elderly.
Too much exposure to the sun has also been linked to the development of cataracts, which is a clouding of the lens of the eye that reduces vision.
Choosing Proper Protection
When you choose the right type of sunglasses, you can help decrease the damaging effects of the sun, both short-term and long-term. Look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation. Sometimes full UV protection is described as “UV absorption up to 400 nanometers” or UV400”.
More tips for selecting sunglasses:
- Choose a pair that is large enough to cover your eyes fully
- Wraparound styles also protect the sides of your eyes, offering the most complete sun protection
- If you wear eyeglasses, order a pair of sunglasses with your prescription lenses
When Sunglasses Are a Must
You might be on the beach, by the pool or working in the yard; any time you plan to be outdoors for an extended period of time, you should wear your sunglasses. Sunglasses should also be worn on sunny days during the winter. Sunlight can reflect off of ice and snow, increasing your exposure to UV rays. Some medications can cause extra sensitivity to the sun or photosensitivity. If you take one of these medications, wear sunglasses whenever you go outside.
If you haven’t worn sunglasses for years, it’s never too late to begin. Talk to your eye doctor or family doctor for more information about the effects of the sun on your eyes and make wearing sunglasses a part of your daily sun care routine.