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Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Quality Sunglasses
Every day, whether it is sunny or cloudy, no matter the season – we are exposed to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun. Most of the time, we aren’t even aware we are being bombarded with potentially damaging radiation (light). Just as the sun can damage your skin (burning, premature aging, and skin cancer) it also can have damaging effects in the eye. There are two types of radiation in sunlight that affect the eye - UVA and UVB. UVA exposure affects the lens in the eye and has been linked to a greatly increased chance of cataract development (a clouding of the lens of the eye). UVB affects the retina and can cause severe damage. Furthermore, the damage from harmful UV radiation is cumulative over a person’s lifetime. Because the damage is cumulative, it is important to protect your eyes every day, in all light conditions.
Sunglasses, with and without a prescription, that can block out nearly all UV light are readily available. Eyeglass lenses with UV blocking characteristics protect the eyes and significantly reduce the chance of vision problems caused by sunlight.
Here are some important tips when considering lenses with UV protection (sunglasses):
- Look for sunglasses that block at least 99% of ultraviolet rays, both UVA and UVB.
- Lenses should be gray, green, or brown, and the larger the lenses, the better. Wrap around sunglasses provide an extra measure of protection.
- The best sunglasses are those purchased from an optometrist or optician. This ensures the sunglasses have the appropriate amounts of filtering for both types of ultraviolet radiation (UV) and are the best protection for your eyes while in the sun.
- UV light from the sun is harmful even in winter. Snowboarders and skiers should always wear tinted goggles, as UV light bounces off snow even on the cloudiest of days.
- Sunglasses purchased from a department store or a street vendor may not provide important UV protection. There is no assurance that eyewear, no matter how dark the lens, will protect against UV rays.
- Polarized sun lenses are excellent at providing glare free vision, enhanced contrast vision, 100% UV protection, outstanding color perception, and reducing eye fatigue resulting from bright light conditions from the sun
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Photochromic lenses (lenses that darken when exposed to UV light) are a good choice for an everyday lens because they automatically protect against UV. However, it is important to recognize that not all plastic photochromic lenses block 100% of UV radiation.
Summer is almost upon us and due to the increase sunlight associated with our longer days, many individuals are thinking about the value of sunglasses. If you are planning to purchase sunglasses, make the kind of selection in sun wear and lenses that will reduce the uncomfortable glare of bright sunlight, while providing you with the UV protection so important to your ocular health. Ask our expert opticians in our optical center about the many lens options available for UV protection.