The Sun Is Out: Protect Your Eyes With Sunglasses
It’s that time of year again: time for those of us who live in places where the sun hides for most of the year to buy yet another pair of sunglasses. For many, it seems like the ones we had just nine short months ago can never be found when another summer rolls around.
While buying sunglasses can feel like a bit of a chore – after all, there are fashion considerations to make and the budget you want to or need to stay within – the really important question is what kind of sunglasses “should” you be wearing for the greatest amount of protection. After all, sunglasses aren’t merely supposed to be shade for your eyes; they’re supposed to protect your eyes from the sun. Here’s a guide to choosing the best sunglasses for protecting your vision this summer.
The Dark Sunglasses Myth
Once upon a time, many people thought that the darker the glasses, the more protection from the sun they offered your eyes. Not only is this a completely false assertion, but it’s actually a dangerous myth.
No amount of dark tint, or mirroring for that matter, will do anything to protect your eyes. In fact, the darker your sunglasses, the more they could leave your eyes exposed to the harmful effects of the sun.
Light is information to your eyes and the visual cortex in your brain. Your eyes let in light through your pupils and send their impression of that light to your visual cortex for interpretation. The darker it is, the more your pupils dilate to let in more light.
This happens when you wear dark glasses as well, and if your dark glasses aren’t protecting your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun, then they’re letting in more of it to potentially inflict damage.
Sunscreen for Your Eyes—What Your Eyes Need Protection From
So what exactly are the harmful effects of the sun when it comes to our eyes? And what do our eyes really need protection from?
In short, your eyes need to be shielded from the same light that can burn your skin – ultraviolet light – which can damage your eyes, as well. According to the National Institutes of Health, studies have shown that “ultraviolet light exposure to the eye has been associated with cataract formation and retinal degeneration.”
So are sunglasses truly necessary for maintaining optimal eye health? Yes, sunglasses that protect your eyes from the harmful effects of UV light are essential for maintaining your eye health and protecting your vision from a variety of problems.
The Wraparound Sunglasses Option
Furthermore, your eyes don’t just need protection from UV light that is coming straight at them from wherever you happen to be facing. For optimal protection, consider purchasing wraparound-style sunglasses.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you want sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB light: “wraparound glasses… shaped to keep light from shining around the frames and into your eyes.”
Carrying Your Own Shade With You This Summer
Thanks to ozone depletion, there is more ultraviolet radiation in the light that we get from the sun these days then there may have been when you were younger. Because of this, it is very important to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of UVA and UVB light.
Seek out sunglasses that wrap around your eyes and block 99-100% of ultraviolet light. Consider adding a brimmed hat as well; think of it as carrying your own shade. Just like you protect your skin from the sun, you must also protect your sight.