You use sunscreen on your skin to avoid damage from the sun, but do you protect your eyes from injury that can come from ultraviolet (UV) rays? Sunglasses are one way to do this. Not all sunglasses are created equal and using the proper protection for your eyes can mean the difference between a lifetime of healthy eyes or serious eye damage and disease.
We are familiar with how our body repairs itself when an injury occurs. Eye lens do not repair like the rest of the body, though. If the lens is damaged then it remains that way. This could result in vision loss or disease.
Sun Damage Contributes to Some Conditions
No matter the season, eyes are susceptible to damage from blue light and UV rays. Your eyes are still able to become seriously damaged by the sun’s rays in the winter if you do not protect them. In the summer the rays are three times stronger and even on cloudy or overcast days your eyes can suffer sun damage.
Some of the following conditions may be caused by sun damage or aggravated by not using protection:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Skin cancer around the eyes
What Are the Risk Factors?
All people have a risk of damage to the eyes when they have been exposed to the sun for a prolonged period of time. There are some groups of people that have a higher risk. Children that are under age ten can suffer from serious damage to the retina when exposed to the sun for too long. Children, especially those under ten, should have eye protection when outdoors.
There are more groups that are at a higher risk for sun damage:
- Cataracts surgery patients
- People with light eyes
- People on medications that cause sun sensitivity
- People with disorders of the retina
- Protecting the Eyes
Every time you are out in the sun your need to protect your eyes. The more time you spend with your eyes exposed to sunlight, the more possibility there is of permanent eye damage. This is because damage to the eyes from the sun is cumulative over the course of your life. Remember – the lens o the eye cannot repair itself.
Between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM the sun’s rays are the strongest. During this time it is important to either protect the eyes or to avoid the sun altogether. Wearing sunglasses is the best way to protect the eyes, though all sunglasses are not created equal in their protective qualities.
The sunglasses that provide the best protection for your eyes are…
- Large enough to cover the entire eye and fit close to the eye
- Able to block 99-100% of UVA & UVB rays
- Able to block blue light
An eye doctor can help you choose the right sunglasses for you. Not only can he or she help you pick out the best eye protection, they may be able to determine how much damage may already be present. Don’t wait until it’s too late to begin caring for your eyes.