Sunglasses: An Everyday Sun Defense

You already know that sunscreen and sun-safe apparel protect your skin from UV damage. But did you know that sunglasses are just as essential for your eye health? That’s why you need UV-blocking eyewear when outdoors.

You can protect your eyes from UV light by sliding on sunglasses with a 99-100% UVA/UVB protection rating or a UV400 rating. Full UV-blocking eyewear offers the best defense against sun-related risks to your eye health.

Sunglasses are vital for both sunny and cloudy days, no matter the outside temperatures. Just because the sun isn’t visible doesn’t mean your eyes aren’t vulnerable to UV damage. The same dangerous rays that pass through clouds to cause sunburned skin can also harm your eyes. So slide on those sunglasses every day to safeguard your current and future eye health.

First Things First

Before you zero in on fashionable shades, make protection your priority. And don’t be fooled by a high price tag – it isn’t a guarantee of UV lens quality. You can find full UV-blocking sunglasses for just a few dollars. That said, here are important factors to look for:

  • Do the lenses fully block out harmful UV rays? Check the label for a 99-100% UVA/UVB rating or a UV400 rating. If you don’t see a label, skip those glasses.
  • Do the frames have an oversized shape and are close-fitting? The more coverage you have around your eye area the better. Wraparound styles also provide great eye coverage by preventing sunlight from sneaking in from all angles. This keeps your eyes and the delicate skin around them safe from UV damage. Wraparound styles can also minimize eye and contact lens dryness caused by wind. Small frames, while trendy, offer limited coverage of the eye area.
  • Are the sunglasses comfortable? You are more likely to wear your sunglasses consistently if they are comfortable and stay put.

Other Lens Features

After you’ve found a pair of maximum UV protective sunglasses, you can focus on other features for eye comfort. Select the lens color, shading, and polarization options that best fit your activities and needs.

Lens colors range from browns, grays, and greens to yellow tints. Clear lenses are also available with full UV protection and are best for the low light of overcast or late-day sun. Darker lens shades help to minimize light sensitivity which can cause headaches and strained eyes. Polarized lenses help to reduce sun glare and prevent squinting and eye fatigue.

Eye Condition Risks

Overexposure to UV light puts you at a higher risk for eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other serious eye diseases. It’s even possible to get sunburn on your eyes from direct sunlight or the glare of bright surfaces like snow or water. If you take drugs that cause photosensitivity, your eyes are especially vulnerable to damage from unprotected sun exposure.

In addition to sunlight increasing skin cancer risk, the sun also raises eye cancer risk. This can include cancers of the eye itself (ocular cancer) as well as cancers of the eyelid and surrounding eye areas.

Sunglasses are for Kids Too

Children are also sensitive to UV eye damage, so fit them with a pair of sunglasses with full UV protection, too. Overexposure to UV light in childhood increases their risk of eye problems later in life. Have kids wear sunglasses daily when playing outside, not just for the beach or pool. Consider a Velcro strap to keep sunglasses in place for little ones. If small children struggle with sunglasses, consider a brimmed sun hat instead.

You can also boost your eye protection by pairing sunglasses with a wide brim hat to block sunlight on your face. A wide brim sun hat helps to shield your face, ears, and neck from those sneaky rays.

Sunglasses are more than just a summer accessory. Wear UV-protected sunglasses every day of the year, since the sun’s rays still filter through clouds. Include them with other sun-safe measures like sunscreen and UPF 50+ sun apparel.

Wear your sunglasses when enjoying outdoor activities, running errands, or checking the mailbox. For convenience, buy more than one pair to stash in your car, purse, or backpack. Sunglasses are a smart and stylish way to help safeguard your vision for a lifetime.