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Are Those Cute Sunglasses Actually Protecting Your Eyes?

By Sam Johansen

As summertime is in full swing, I’m sure we are all itching to spend as much time as possible outdoors. Whether that is going to the beach, golf course, or running around town, having fun in the sun and getting outdoors is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. With this in mind, there are a few things to remember about the health of your eyes during these hot and sunny days.

The sun emits harmful UV radiation, so one of the biggest things you can do for your eye health is to invest in a good pair of UV-blocking sunglasses, which helps prevent harmful UV radiation from reaching your eyes. The terms you want to see include “100% UV protection” or “UV-A and UV-B protection” or “UV protection up to 400nm.” If you see any of these statements, then you are likely looking at a good quality pair of sunglasses.

One of the more popular terms you hear about sunglasses is that the good ones are polarized. While polarized lenses are great at reducing glare from reflections, it does not mean that those sunglasses also block UV radiation, which is an important distinction.

So why do we care? What exactly does UV radiation do to your eyes? Well, here is a short list of what UV rays can do to your eyes:

1. Eyelids and Cancer

The skin around your eyes is some of the thinnest skin on your whole body. This means it is easier for UV radiation to penetrate and lead to things like basal and squamous cell carcinomas and melanoma.

2. Macular Degeneration

Hopefully, everyone has at least heard of macular degeneration and the fact that it can lead to severe central vision loss and the need for some not-so-fun treatments from your local retina specialist. Does a family member have macular degeneration? That means you are at an even higher risk to develop it!

3. Pterygia

These growths of excess normal tissue start on the conjunctiva or white part of your eye and grow onto your cornea. While benign tissue growth is less concerning than cancer, it can be very irritating and negatively impact your vision, requiring surgical removal if it gets large enough.

4. Radiation/Solar Retinopathy

Especially a concern during solar eclipses, but it can happen on any normal day. Radiation or Solar Retinopathy means the UV rays have damaged the retinal tissue in the back of your eye, which can impair or distort your central vision.

5. Cataracts

While a cloudy lens in the eye is a very normal thing with age, do you really want to have eye surgery maybe 5, 10, or even 20 years sooner than you would have to otherwise? Didn’t think so.

6. Keratitis (Dry Eye)

Don’t underestimate the impact dry eye can have on your quality of life. It has been proven through numerous studies that dry eye (and cataracts, while we are at it) can significantly impact your quality of life and are highly associated with depression.

Come on, we know you want an excuse to get a new pair of fashionable shades this summer. If you haven’t been convinced yet, maybe the vast additional choices like prescription sunglasses, colored mirrors, and polarization will reel you in. Last but certainly not least, don’t forget about your little babies! Almost all the same options for adults are available for children and babies, as well!

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that “size doesn’t matter"… but I am here to tell you that size DOES matter! Larger wraparound frames with big lens sizes protect more of your face/skin/eyes and help to limit dry eye from wind exposure!

So what are you waiting for? Come to the office and see what all we can offer, and we can give you a high-quality eye exam at the best price in town!


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