Shades for Style and Eye Protection

At last the days have begun to lengthen and the sun has made a welcome return. Warmer days have many sun worshipers bursting to put the top down and catch a few rays.  But in addition to a good SPF,  protecting eyes from harmful ultraviolet radiation is also important while enjoying the season.

Sunglasses are not only a fashion accessory or a tool to help reduce glare while driving, they can help protect the cornea, lens, eyelid and other parts of the eye from damaging rays.  According to the Mayo Clinic, UV exposure contributes to the development of certain types of cataracts, growths on the eye (including cancer) and may also lead to macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 60.

Light colored eyes are at an increased risk for skin cancers and certain eye diseases because they have less melanin, which helps protect eyes from damaging sun exposure.  Risk for cataracts, cancer and macular degeneration increase with age. If you notice a lump that doesn’t go away, persistent eye inflammation, loss of eyelashes or any lesions with irregular borders,  consult an ophthalmologist right away.

Shielding the delicate skin around the eyes may also help prevent sun damage and wrinkles.  The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends wearing sunglasses during the summer when UVA and UVB levels are three times higher than in the winter.  Is also a important to protect eyes at the beach or near the water, while participating in winter sports or at high altitudes and when using medications that can cause sensitivity to light.  Some antibiotics, especially tetracyclines and sulfonamides as well as diuretics for high blood pressure and heart failure can cause photo-sensitivity.  Talk with your doctor to learn more.

What to Look for in Sunglasses

  • Look for sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 per cent of both UVA and UVB rays
  • Gray lenses allow for proper color recognition
  • Wide lenses that fit closely or wrap around protect the eyes better from any angle
  • Some contact lenses also absorb UV light but a sun glass with good coverage offers more protection
  • Darker lenses don’t protect better or block more UV rays
  • Polarization cuts glare but doesn’t give more sun protection
  • Price shouldn’t be the deciding factor;  look for 100 UV blocking protection, many inexpensive glasses offer good protection

To learn more about protecting your eyes from the sun’s rays, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation by following this link.