Shorter Days Still Call for Sunglasses
No matter what the weather or the season, wearing sunglasses is always a good choice. In fact, slipping on your favorite pair of sunglasses protects your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun year-round.
Why Wearing Sunglasses Is So Important
It may no longer be hot outside but that doesn't mean that the sun's ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet (B) rays are any less destructive. The same rays that light and heat our world can burn your skin or increase your risk of a variety of eye disease and conditions.
Do you leave your sunglasses at home on cloudy days? Although it may look dreary outside, ultraviolet light easily breaks through the clouds and can even reach your eyes through your car's windshield.
Going for stroll on a wintry day or hitting the ski slopes without sun protection could be just as dangerous as spending a day on the beach during the summer. Snow and ice reflect UVA and UVB rays, increasing their intensity.
Frequent exposure to the sun may mean that you're more likely to develop:
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD affects your central vision, causing blurring or loss of vision. The disease doesn't change your peripheral (side) vision, but may make it hard to read, watch TV, or drive. Years of sun exposure may be a risk factor in AMD.
- Cataracts. The more exposure to the sun, the greater your chances of developing cataracts. Cataracts happen when the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy. The lens bends light rays onto the retina, a layer of cells at the back of the eye that converts light in electrical impulses. The impulses travel to the brain where they're converted into images. Unfortunately, it's difficult to focus light on the retina properly when the lens is cloudy.
- Photokeratitis. You may at risk of developing photokeratitis if you spend a lot of time outdoors, particularly around snow, ice, and wet surfaces. When those surfaces reflect light into your cornea (the clear tissue over the iris and pupil), you may develop a sunburn on your eye. The pain can be quite intense but usually only lasts a day or two. Wearing sunglasses or goggles helps you avoid burning your corneas.
- Cancer. Sun exposure could increase your risk of developing cancer in your eye or on your eyelids.
- Pterygium. Sun exposure can also cause bumps called pterygium on the sclera, the white part of your eye. The bumps are often treated with medicated eye drops, but surgery may be the best option if pterygium interfere with your vision.
- Dry Eye. Cold, windy days offer the perfect conditions for dry, red eyes. Sunglasses block some of the wind and prevent your eyes from becoming dry, itchy and irritated.
- Wrinkles. Does the sun make you squint? Eventually, you may notice wrinkles on your forehead and around your eyes due to the habit. Putting on a pair of sunglasses offers a simple way to keep wrinkles away.
What to Look for in Sunglasses
The American Optometric Association recommends wearing sunglasses that block 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Luckily, many brands and styles of sunglasses offer this protection. For the ultimate protection, choose wraparound styles.
Of course, buying sunglasses is just the first step in protecting your eyes. You'll actually have to wear the glasses regularly to avoid dry eyes, wrinkles, AMD and other conditions.
Sunglasses seem to have a way of disappearing. In fact, glasses were among the six most frequently lost items in a Pixie Technology survey. (Remotes, keys, phones, shoes and wallets/purses also made the top six list.) If you buy a few extra pairs of sunglasses and stash them in your car, your home and at your desk at work, you'll always have a pair when you need them.
Whether you need a pair of prescription sunglasses, are concerned about a change in your eyesight, or want to improve your vision with vision therapy, we're here to help you protect your eyes. Contact our office to schedule an appointment.
American Optometric Association: Do Sunglasses Really Protect Your Eyes from the Sun?, 4/7/2015
PR Newswire: Lost and Found: The Average American Spends 2.5 Days Each Year Looking For Lost Items Collectively Costing U.S. Households $2.7 Billion Annually in Replacement Costs
All About Vision: Why Should You Wear Sunglasses Year-Round?, 3/15/2022
American Optometric Association: Eye Protectors: Provide Patients Relief in Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, 1/16/2019