Warm weather and sunny days are finally upon us. The next several months may involve a lot of time in the sun whether you’re heading to the beach, playing sports or relaxing outside. While this can certainly have positive effects on your mental and physical well-being, the sun can be a serious threat to your eye health without proper precautions.
Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays increases your risk of cataracts, eye cancer and dangerous growths on the eye. In fact, an estimated 20% of cataract cases may be the result of overexposure to UV radiation. However, the risk of these conditions can be minimized by wearing sunglasses.
With countless styles to choose from, selecting the right pair may be overwhelming. The important thing to remember is that sunglasses need to do more than just look good.
The sunglasses you choose should block out 99 to 100% of UV-A and UV-B radiation, as both can have short and long-term impacts on your eyes. UV-A rays account for up to 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the earth. They can harm your central vision and potentially damage the macula, located in the back of your eye. Most times, UV-B rays are absorbed by the front of your eye and can cause more damage than UV-A rays. Keep in mind sunglasses are necessary even on overcast days, as clouds don’t block UV rays.
Short-term effects of sun exposure can cause swollen and red eyes or hypersensitivity to light. Opt for oversized frames for added protection.
Sunglasses should also help prevent sun glare from interfering with your vision. Polarized lenses can help reduce glare while blocking light reflecting off flat surfaces such as water, sand, snow and pavement.
Make sunglasses a topic at your next eye exam. Your eyecare provider will help you select sunglasses to meet your lifestyle and visual needs.
Remember that sunglasses are important to wear all year, not just in the summer months. When getting ready to head out the door, always keep a pair of sunglasses handy to protect your eyes.