If you buy a new pair of sunglasses each season, there’s a good chance that you want something stylish, a pair of shades that accent your looks and make a fashion statement. While there’s nothing wrong with this, you need to take a closer look at what you’re buying. After all, fashion means little if those brand new sunglasses fail at the most important purpose – protecting your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays year-round.
Yes, the sun can cause damage to more than your skin. Those harmful UV rays can lead to a host of vision problems, some severe.
But there’s good news. You can get the look you want by shopping smart.
Why Looks Aren’t Everything
It’s important to understand the need for sunglasses in protecting your vision while outside:
UV Protection: The sun’s UV rays can damage the skin of the eyelid as well as the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. Even short-term, excessive exposure during a day at the beach could lead to photokeratitis. Often called “a sunburn of the eye” or “snow blindness,” it’s usually temporary but painful. Those UV rays can cause more serious conditions over the years, including cataracts, pterygium (an abnormal growth of the covering of the white of the eye onto the cornea), and cancer of the eyelids, skin around the eye and even the eye. Wearing wide-brimmed hats and caps only block about half of this radiation.
Blue-light Protection: Long-term exposure may cause damage to the retina, which can lead to macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in adults in the United States. The blue and violet portion of the sun’s rays has been shown to be a contributing factor in damaging the retina.
See Better: Ever squint in the sun, and it hard to see objects, especially when driving, and have your eyes water? Bright sunlight and its glare simply impede your ability to see and see comfortably.
Dark Adaptation: Chances are you’ve looked at a bright light and then found it dif cult to see in darker conditions. Spend as little as two to three hours in the sun without sunglasses and you can hamper your eyes’ ability to atdapt when you step indoors.
Look for Protection
Healthy eyes never go out of style. To ensure that you buy sunglasses that assure protection, the AOA recommends:
Lenses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays.
Screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
Ask your optometrist and optician to recommend the best lens color and darkness that ensures comfort and critical vision when driving or out in the sun.
Lenses are perfectly matched in color and are free of distortion and imperfection.
A frame that its close to your eyes and contours to the shape of your face. This prevents exposure to UV rays from all sides, even from behind.
Prescription glasses with tints and full UV protection. And while some contact lenses also offer UV protection, these should be worn with sunglasses to maximize your protection.
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