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Sunglasses and UV Protection

Why Wear Sunglasses?

Sunglasses protect not only your eyes from the sun but also protect your eyelids and surrounding skin tissue. The sun emits massive amounts of ultraviolet (UV) radiation which causes premature skin cell death as well as damage to skin cell DNA. This causes premature aging of the eyes and skin cancer. Sunglasses are also very important in children as UV radiation is cumulative over a lifetime.

What Eye Problems Can Develop if I Don't Wear Sunglasses?

There are several eye conditions that can develop from not wearing sunglasses:

  • Cataracts: UV rays cause the eye’s crystalline lens to age and cloud prematurely.
  • Macular Degeneration: UV rays cause premature aging of the macula which is the part of the retina responsible for central vision. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.
  • Corneal disease: The transparent front of the eye called the cornea can be damaged by excessive sun exposure causing scarring, loss of transparency, and subsequent loss of vision.
  • Skin cancer of the eyelids: This includes basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. All of these conditions are accelerated by excessive sun exposure. The surgical procedures required to remove eyelid skin cancer can lead to horrific scarring and loss of entire eyelids and surrounding tissue. Skin cancer can also spread to other parts of the body resulting in death.

Are All Sunglasses Created Equal? Do Darker Lenses Protect My Eyes Better?

All glasses are not created equal. To maximize health benefits from sunglasses, be sure to only wear sunglasses that have at least 95% protection from UVA and UVB radiation. If your lenses have dark tint without UV protection, they can do more harm than good as the dim light entering the eye will cause your pupils to enlarge and let in more UV radiation.

The coatings on the lenses that protect your eyes from UVA and UVB are clear. Hence, darkness or color of the lenses make no difference in how well the lenses protect your eyes.

What Other Benefits Do Sunglasses Have for My Vision?

Quality sunglasses can not only protect your eyes better but also offer you much better optics and clarity. Cheap plastic lenses scratch easily and do not allow light to pass through cleanly resulting in blurred vision even with new lenses. Polarization coatings can also be added to the sunglasses to reduce glare and add extra clarity especially around water.

Who Can Advise Me on Sunglasses Options?

If you have questions about sunglasses and eye protection, we recommend you contact our office. Our knowledgeable staff can assist you with your sunglasses needs. We also recommend that you schedule an appointment to see Dr. Reinders for an eye evaluation which can detect damage from the sun. Dr. Reinders has over 22 years of experience in diagnosing cataracts and other sun related problems.