We’re all guilty of it – shopping the cheap sunglasses at your local convenience store (yes, even I have been known to stop by Target when I’ve misplaced my Ray Bans). But those sunglasses aren’t actually doing your eyes any good.
Why do you wear sunglasses? Your first thought is probably, “Because I don’t want to be blinded by the brightness when I walk outside,” or maybe, “That 5:00 sun setting on my way home from work kills me!”
Well, I’m here to tell you that while these are great reasons (wrecking your car just because you weren’t wearing your sunglasses wouldn’t be stellar), but those are just minor compared to the protection that good quality sunglasses can provide.
UV radiation from either natural sunlight or artificial UV rays can be seriously damaging your eyes without you having any idea. Your first thought when you hear “UV radiation” is probably skin cancer, but sunlight can be just as dangerous for your eyes.
UV light is a type of solar radiation and can come from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds, welding machines, and lasers. There are three types of UV radiation – UV-C is absorbed by the ozone layer of the earth, therefore does not pose a threat to our skin or eyes. However, UV-A and UV-B radiation can present long-term and short-term effects.
How are my eyes effected?
Good question! According to Vision Source, there are several eye diseases and conditions that can be caused or aggravated by exposure to UV radiation.
- Macular Degeneration. Macular Degeneration (AMD) is caused by damage to the retina over time and is the leading cause of age-related blindness. Extended exposure to UV light increases your risk of developing macular degeneration.
- Cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens -- the part of the eye that focuses the light we see. UV light, especially UV-B rays, increases your risk for certain types of cataracts. It is estimated that 10% of all cataract cases are directly attributable to UV exposure.
- Pterygium. Often called “surfer’s eye,” pterygium is a pink, non-cancerous growth that forms on the layer of conjunctiva over the white of your eye. UV light from the sun is believed to be a factor in the development of these growths.
- Skin Cancer. Skin cancer in and around the eyelids is also linked to prolonged UV exposure.
- Photokeratitis. Also known as corneal sunburn or “snow blindness,” photokeratitis is the result of high short-term exposure to UV-B rays. Long hours at the beach or skiing without proper eye protection can cause this problem. It can be very painful and may cause temporary vision loss.
Am I at risk?
YES! You’re at risk, your children are at risk, your dog is at risk (although we haven’t figured out how to assist dogs with eyesight quite yet). In fact, your children are likely even more at risk than you, since they are probably spending more time outside. Vision Source provides the following questions to ask yourself; if you answer yes to more than one, you are at a higher risk of damaging your eyes:
- Do you spend long hours in the sun? (Skiing, mountain climbing, swimming, at the beach, etc.)
- Do you use a sunlamp, tanning bed or booth?
- Do you live in the mountains or the US Sunbelt?
- Have you had cataract surgery (in one or both eyes) or do you have a retinal disorder?
- Are you on certain medicines, such as tetracycline, sulfa drugs, birth control pills, diuretics and tranquilizers (that increase the eye’s sensitivity to light)?
- Are you a welder, medical technologist or do you work in the graphic arts or in the manufacturing of electronic circuit boards?
Don’t let your eyes get damaged when there’s something you can do about it.
All sunglasses in the Coley & Coley Eyewear Gallery come with UV protection and you have the option to add polarization (which we always recommend!). Polarized sunglasses protect from all types of UV radiation as well as the glare you see on any flat surface (the road, a body of water, etc.).
View with regular sunglasses
View with polarized sunglasses
We recommend everyone, but especially those who spend a lot of time outdoors, to consider UV protection and/or polarized sunglasses. Any frame you find in the optical can be turned into sunglasses, and we just received over one hundred new frames this week. Stop by to view our selection of Oliver Peoples, Kate Spade, Prada, Ray Ban, and more!