The Importance of Sun Protection for Eyes and Choosing the Best Sunglasses

Sun protection for eyes is something we all need to worry about, no matter what your age is. During the summer, I spend a lot of time outside in the sun.  Whether it’s gardening, going for a walk, or heading to the pool, if the weather is warm and the sun is bright, it’s time to get out of the house.  Whenever I am outside for any length of time, I always make sure to have on sunscreen.  I slather the kids up before they hit the pool (and they complain mightily the whole time!) and my husband always puts his on when he heads out for a run.  Sun protection for your skin is one of those things that we just DO without even thinking about it.  But, do you ever stop to think about sun protection for your eyes?

The Importance of Sun Protection for Eyes and Choosing the Best Sunglasses

The Importance of Sun Protection for Eyes

Sun protection for eyes is extremely important for long term eye health.  I always wear my sunglasses when I drive but I will be totally honest and say they are cheap $10 sunglasses that I bought at the drug store.  I was more worried about how they looked and how much they cost than whether they were doing anything to protect my eyes.  Several members of my family have been diagnosed with eye problems in the last few years which has made me more concerned about long term eye health.

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Eye Health Statistics

Did you know that only about 60% of people wear sunglasses when they go outside? Even fewer adults actually say they make their kids wear sunglasses and sadly I am in the group that has NOT pushed this with my kids.  Starting kids in sunglasses early is important because sun damage is cumulative…that means that every year your kids go without sunglasses they just do more and more damage to their eyes.  And people with light colored eyes need to be especially vigilant with sun protection for their eyes to prevent long term damage.

The Importance of Sun Protection for Eyes and Choosing the Best Sunglasses

Choosing the Best Sunglasses

So, how do you know if those sunglasses you are considering buying will actually help protect your eyes?  First look for a sticker or label on the lens or frame that indicates UVA and UVB protection. If you don’t see a sticker or have an older pair of sunglasses, you can bring them to an eye care professional who can test them using a UV meter.  Many of your local eyeglass stores will have a meter that can be used to check your glasses.  Don’t buy from online auction sites, street vendors, or second-hand stores.  I know it’s tempting to buy trendy glasses on the street corner but do you really know what you are getting in terms of sun protection?

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So, how do you go about finding sunglasses that not only offer sun protection but also fit into your lifestyle?  Here are a few tips:

  • Darker lenses don’t necessarily mean better protection
  • Brown, amber and copper lenses work to reduce glare and improve contrast for activities like driving, golfing, water sports and snow sports
  • Grey tint is popular because it distorts color the least
  • Yellow and rose tinted lenses enhance definition which can be helpful if you’re driving in fog or haze
  • Gradient tints, which have a gradual change in color from the top down, cut overhead glare and provide clearer vision when looking down or straight ahead
  • Polarized lenses absorb light from horizontal surfaces which can be particularly helpful when driving
  • Anti-reflective lenses work extremely well at blocking reflected light from water, snow, concrete, and even grass

The Importance of Sun Protection for Eyes and Choosing the Best Sunglasses

Getting Kids to Wear Sunglasses

The best way to get KIDS to wear sunglasses is to model good behavior and wear them yourself.  It also helps to start them young so that they get used to wearing them and it becomes ‘normal’ for them.  They will eventually stop noticing they even have sunglasses on.  I wish I had done this with my kids.  Now I just have to tell them how ‘cool’ they look with sunglasses on.   Teens are all about being cool!  If your kids are still young, pick up some sunglasses for kids and get them started now!

While some eye diseases are genetic, much of them are the result of age and cumulative damage from the sun over the course of a lifetime.  You can even get sunburn on your eyes which sounds incredibly painful! Finding the best sun protection for eyes is probably not going to be cheap. But the initial cost of high quality sun glasses will be much cheaper than the long term medical costs associated with serious vision problems.

Are you concerned about sun protection for eyes?

 

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About Diane

Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke!

Comments

  1. Thanks for the information. Good to know. I always wear sunglasses when I am outside.
  2. This is so timely for me! I just did a scope about all of my sunglasses and why I love them. I happen to have 8 pairs now, and I'm looking to add more! So many folks don't realize that they can ruin their eyes without proper protection and only see sunglasses as a fashion statement.
  3. I'm lost without my sunglasses! I never really thought about it until I had LASIK done two years ago, and still, my eyes are so sensitive.
  4. I actually have a genetic corneal disorder that leaves my eyes at a greater risk for damage, so protection is extra important. This information on the benefits of different tints is especially helpful. Thanks for sharing!
  5. Desiree Lopez says:
    I can honestly say I never thought about specifically protecting my eyes from the sun before. Luckily I have sensitive eyes so I always wear sunglasses, even on a rainy day. This is important information to be aware of!

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