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Protect Your Eyes with the Right Sunglasses

Protect Your Eyes with the Right Sunglasses

Have you ever thought about the real benefit of sunglasses – and what they do to protect your eyes?

Donning the right pair of sunglasses can help you feel effortlessly chic, fashionable, and even more confident when you step outside the door – in addition to helping you deal with the glare and sometimes blinding bright sun. But have you ever thought about the real benefit of sunglasses – and what they do to protect your eyes?

First and foremost, sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Most lenses are made with UV protection (although some models still use coating on the lenses themselves), which works to block or reflect both UVA and UVB light. In addition to protecting your eyes, this UV blocking also helps protect the sensitive skin around your eyes from skin cancer and even wrinkles. These sunglasses can also help prevent headaches or migraines that may be caused by direct sunlight, reduce eye strain, and protect from wind, dust, and debris.

To ensure your sunglasses have complete UV protection, look for a label (usually inside the side piece) that says either:

  • 100% protection against both UVA and UVB
  • 100% protection against UV 400

If you are uncertain or can’t find the label, simply take your sunglasses to an optical shop where they can be quickly tested in a photometer in less than one minute. Most opticians will test them for free.

A good pair of sunglasses doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but there are some critical features you should look for. Make certain your sunglasses are doing enough to protect your eye health – and not just making you look cool – by following these additional tips.

  • Don’t be fooled by dark lenses. No matter how dark the lenses are, if they don’t have the appropriate UV protection you will be risking your eye health. Dark lenses cause your pupils to open up and will allow even more light into your eyes, increasing your risk for cataracts, macular degeneration, and even more serious, rare eye problems. In fact, wearing dark lenses without UV protection can actually be worse than not wearing any sunglasses at all.
  • Consider polarized lenses. Polarized lenses are best for reducing glare, which is important when driving in sunny conditions. They are also especially helpful if you’ve had refractive eye surgery, such as LASIK. And they are great for hiking or scenic views, since they help reduce glare and enhance colors so you can see everything more clearly. Just remember that you still need the UV protection, since polarization doesn’t block those rays.
  • Think about wrap-around lenses. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, especially around water, wrap-around lenses can protect you from UV rays that enter from the sides of the lenses. Just make sure that they fit well, so they can also keep out dust and wind.
  • Choose the appropriate lens color. When selecting a pair of sunglasses, keep in mind your lifestyle and how you plan to use them in specific settings and activities. The lens color can aid your goals – but can also possibly disrupt your vision if the wrong color is worn in a certain setting. Keep these guidelines in mind:
    • Green lenses filter out some blue light and can reduce glare and provide contrast in bright sunlight. They are often worn when playing tennis or golf.
    • Blue and purple lenses enhance color perception and can help you see contours around objects more easily. They offer protection from reflective surface – especially snow – and work well in overcast or misty weather conditions.
    • Red and rose lenses can help improve driving visibility as they filter out some blue light. They can also help increase depth perception and even enhance detail. We can’t guarantee that the world will always look better through rose-colored lenses, but we do know they are good for some sporting activities, such as skiing.
    • Gray lenses are great for all-purpose use. This neutral color reduces glare, especially on the water, which makes them a favorite for those who enjoy fishing. They work well on both cloudy and sunny days and can even provide some anti-fatigue benefits so they’re also great for driving.
    • Amber or brown lenses are often used in performance sunglasses for golf and baseball since they filter blue light and help improve depth perception. They also enhance the contrast between green landscapes and blue skies – another benefit for those who need to make out small objects at a distance.
    • Yellow or gold lenses are great for both indoor and outdoor sports. They help improve the visibility of objects in moderate and low-level light conditions. Just beware that these lenses may distort color more than some of the other options.

Remember to wear sunglasses daily – even when there isn’t any bright sun. Just choose the appropriate lens color to make sure that your eyes are always protected, and your perception is crisp. And don’t forget about the kids: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies eyes should be totally protected from sun with a stroller canopy, umbrella or complete shade until they are six months old. After that, make sure their eyes are protected with a brimmed hat and snug-fitting sunglasses. And of course, don’t forget the sunscreen!

Don’t forget to protect your vision with a regular eye exam. For help finding an ophthalmologist, click here.


This article appeared in the June 2024 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.

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