How Important Is It To Wear Sunglasses?

August 2, 2021

With the summer months and warmer weather approaching, many people will be spending more time outside, taking trips to the beach, taking a stroll through a park, or simply sitting outside enjoying the sunshine.

And while there are many benefits to getting exercise and soaking up the rays, direct sunlight can have long-term negative effects on both the skin and eyes. Fortunately, there are simple steps for people to take to both enjoy the outdoors and prevent damage to their eyes.

What Are the Dangers of Direct Sunlight to the Eyes?

Direct sunlight is composed of a broad spectrum of electromagnetic waves, including ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is harmful to human cells exposed to this wavelength of light. Exposure to unfiltered UV light can be especially dangerous for the health of the eye. The most common condition of overexposure to UV rays is eye strain, pain caused by glare, but there are more dangerous effects as well.

Just like the skin can become burned after prolonged exposure to sunlight, so can the retina. This is especially true at the beach or near other bodies of water, where sunlight reflected off the water contains nearly the same amount of UV light as staring directly at the sun.

The retina at the back of the eye can be damaged through exposure to all this light, which can lead to vision loss. Prolonged exposure can increase the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygiums (fleshy, web-like growths on the surface of the eye).

What Can You Do to Protect Your Eyes?

One of the best and easiest ways to protect your eyesight is to wear sunglasses. Sunglasses can block up to 100% of UV light and greatly reduce glare, but unfortunately, many people avoid wearing them or wear ineffective types of shades.

A survey conducted by the Vision Counsel in 2015 found that an estimated 25% of Americans rarely or never wear sunglasses despite the benefits. And even those who do wear sunglasses may not be aware of how to choose a pair that offers the greatest protection.

What to Look For in a Pair of Sunglasses

There are three important factors to consider when purchasing a pair of sunglasses:

  1. UV Protection. Not all sunglasses are made the same when it comes to protecting you from UV light exposure. When you are considering a pair of sunglasses, check for a sticker that says the glasses block 100% of UV light.
  2. Large Size. While smaller sunglasses may appear more aesthetically pleasing to you, glasses that do not fully cover your field of vision only offer partial protection from harmful light. Make sure to try on several different pairs before you buy and check that they provide full coverage from all angles.
  3. Polarized Lenses. It’s a common misconception that polarized lenses block UV light more effectively than other types of sunglasses. While this is not true, polarized lenses are very effective at cutting down glare. This helps keep your eyes from becoming strained after prolonged time outside.

Eye Care in Falls Church, VA

To learn more about the best ways to protect your eyes and vision while fully embracing an outdoor lifestyle, feel free to talk to the expert ophthalmologists at Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology any time. Whether you’re experiencing problems with your vision or want to protect it for many years to come, our doctors have solutions for you. Contact us online or call our office to schedule your consultation today.

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