Last week, I wrote a blog about protecing your skin from the sun’s harmful rays with quality sunscreen. However, your skin isn’t the only part of you that needs protecting—your eyes do as well. Before venturing outside on a warm sunny day, put on sunglasses. A new report issued by The Vision Council today explains why sporting protective shades is just plain smart.
The report stated that only 73 percent of adults in the United States report wearing sunglasses on a regular basis, meaning more than a quarter of American adults leaves their eyes at risk for damage from the sun. Only 58 percent of them make sure their children wear sunglasses as well, which is particularly troubling. The risk of damage to our eyes from solar UV radiation is cumulative, meaning the more time we spend outside, the more our risk goes up. Children typically spend more time outside than their parents so protecting their eyes on sunny days becomes even more important for vision later on in life.
UV exposure can have many short-term and long-term effects on the eye. After a day outside in the sun, eyes may appear bloodshot, light-sensitive and swollen. In some cases, photokeratitis, or sunburn of the eye, can occur. In severe cases, this “snow blindness” can cause vision loss for up to two days.
If you are often outside for long periods of time, more severe side effects can occur, such as cataracts, which is the progressive clouding of the lens of the eye, or even cancer of the eye, eyelid or nearby skin. Age-related macular degeneration is also possible, which can result in blurred vision and hindered color perception.
Choose sunglasses that you feel and look good. You will be more likely to
wear them and, therefore, more likely to save your eyesight.
Photo by jilleatsapples/Courtesy Flickr
Luckily, picking out the perfect pair of sunglasses is easy, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when buying and wearing sunglasses:
• Buy sunglasses that look good and feel good. First of all, make sure you like the way your shades look and feel before buying them. You’ll be more likely to wear them after the purchase.
• Pick a pair with a close-fitting wraparound style. These will provide the best protection and prevent any harmful rays from sneaking in.
• Make sure your shades offer protection against UVA and UVB rays. Both of these can damage your eye. To ensure you’re protected, look for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) protection label on the sunglasses.
• Sport your sunglasses even if you’re in the shade. Harmful UV rays can damage your eye if they reflect from roadways, buildings and other surfaces.
• Wear your shades throughout the year. Your exposure to solar UV radiation can actually double in winter when UV rays are reflected off of fresh snow.