You would have prepared for the winter by bring out your wollens, coats and by replenishing your stock of cold cream. You might have even given your heater a pre-season tuneup. But how do you plan to care for your eyes?
Winter can be a very testing time for the eyes. Thankfully, you do not need to do much. Keeping a pair of sunglasses handy and wearing them when you go out in the sun, should be enough.
Just because it is winter and the sun’s rays are not so severe, it does not mean that you can expose your eyes to the sun. On the contrary, if it snows where you stay, your eyes’ exposure to UV rays actually increases, because snow is a very good reflector.
Problems that can result from exposing your eyes to the sun
High exposure to UV rays can lead to eye problems like macular degeneration, cataracts, benign growths and in extreme cases, even cancer of the eyelids and eye. Most of these problems occur after repeated expsoure to the sun’s rays over many years.
But even exposing your eyes to the sun for a short period can cause a painful condition called photokeratitis. It is the equivalent of a sunburn but this one affects the eyes. In the middle of the day when the sun is at its zenith, there is a lot of high energy visible radiation about. Exposure to HEV radiation, as it is called, increases a person’s long term susceptibilty to macular degeneration.
The type of sunglasses you should wear
The best kind of sunglasses are those that block 100 percent of the sun’s UV radiation, while providing protection against HEV rays.
A close fitting frame (wrap around style) provides an excellent level of protection. In these glasses, the periphery of the lenses is very close to the face, so the amount of energy that reaches your eyes is limited. Here are a few other tips to protect your eyes with sunglasses this winter.
- Wear sunglasses even when you are in the shade outside. UV rays can reflect from roadways, buildings and car glasses.
- Always wear sunglasses or ski glasses when you go out to play in the snow, or to snowboard or ski. Fresh snow is capable of reflecting 80 percent of the UV rays that fall on it.
- Even if your contact lenses have UV protection, you must wear sunglasses. Contact lenses can protect the lens of the eyes, but what about the conjuctiva and soft tissue?
- Wear sunglasses even if you have dark skin and eyes. A person who has a dark iris faces the same level of risk from UV rays and HEV rays as someone with a light colored iris.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim along with your sunglasses, when in the sun. Your exposure to HEV and UV rays will decrease by a further 50 percent.