Americans have become increasingly aware of the need to protect their skin from the dangers of the sun’s rays over the years. But no matter how scrupulously you choose and apply sunscreens and lotions to protect your body against sun damage, you still need to protect one other critical component — your eyes. Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement or a means of cutting daylight glare; they serve as an eye protection essential. Not all sunglasses perform this task equally well, but our optometrist at Personal Eyes, LLC, Dr. Marie Homa-Palladino, can make sure you get the right pair to preserve your ocular health.

Protect Your Eyes from Sun Damage

As you may already know, the principal threat from all that dazzling sunshine takes the form of ultraviolet (UV) rays. This type of radiation exists just below the visible part of the light spectrum, and it actually consists of three different varieties. UV-C rays are stopped in the Earth’s atmosphere, but UV-A and UV-B rays make it all the way to the ground — where they can cause many different kinds of sun damage, including:

  • Eyelid cancer – Many skin cancers are located on the eyelids, an area not protected by sunscreen.
  • Photokeratitis – This painful eye inflammation is essential a kind of “eye sunburn.”
  • Cataracts – UV exposure is a major factor in this progressive, sight-robbing clouding of the lens.
  • Macular degeneration – Repeated exposure to UV and certain other frequencies of light can trigger progressive damage to a part of the retina called the macula, causing permanent vision loss.

Clearly, your eyes need just as reliable a form of UV protection as the rest of you. But a wide-brimmed hat will only block about half of those incoming rays — to block the rest of them, you need sunglasses.

Selecting a pair of sunglasses isn’t a task to be taken lightly. For one thing, you can’t tell you effectively a pair of sunglasses will block UV simply by how dark they appear. Nor does the term “polarized” have anything to do with UV protection; polarized lenses are simply more efficient at reducing intense glare. While you definitely want sunglasses that can reduce the total incoming light by 75 to 90 percent, you also need to make sure that they block at least 99 percent of both UV-A and UV-B light. Our optometrist recommends that you purchase a pair labeled “UV 400,” a guarantee that the sunglasses bloc all light rays up to 400 nanometers in length (which includes UV-A and UV-B).

Personal Eyes, LLC in Paoli, PA can fit you with separate prescription sunglasses or give you transition lenses that provide full UV protection as well as light-responsive tint. Wraparounds and clip-ons for your existing glasses are another option. Even if you don’t need vision correction, our selection of non-prescription designer sunglasses can you your eyes stay healthy. Call (610) 647-2502 today to learn more!