Sunglasses Are Your Eyes’ Best Friend

Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement, they are essential to help prevent eye disease. The harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays from sunlight can cause many ocular conditions, like cataracts, macular degeneration, eyelid and eye cancers and such unsightly growths as pinguecula or pterygia.

Wearing sunglasses outside is critical year-round, not just on sunny days. In fact, on cloudy days, clouds often reflect harmful UV light, which increases your exposure it. Days spent by the water or sand can do the most harm, because these surfaces are hyper-reflective and more likely to cause damage. So in addition to your sunglasses and sunscreen, add a hat with a brim and consider adding polarization of the lenses to decrease glare. Wrap-around sunglasses or sunglasses with larger lenses and more temple coverage will also protect your face in addition to your eyes.

Know What Sunglasses to Buy

Not all sunglasses are created equal, especially concerning eye protection. When shopping for a new pair, look for a product label that indicates at least one of the following:

  • Lenses block 99 percent or 100 percent of UVB and UVA rays.
  • Lenses meet ANSI Z80.3 blocking requirements. (This refers to standards set by the American National Standards Institute.)
  • UV 400 protection. (Blocks light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers to shield your eyes from even the tiniest UV rays.)

The coating that blocks UV radiation is clear, so darker lenses aren’t necessarily more effective than lighter ones. However, lens color plays an important role in color perception. Avoid yellow or rose-tinted lenses, which make it harder to distinguish changes in traffic lights. Choose gray, green or brown lenses instead to minimize color distortion.

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