Finding the right pair of sunglasses to fit your personal style is often an important part of making your summer outfit picture perfect. But beyond “picture perfect,” a carefully chosen pair of sunglasses can grant you great health advantages and help safeguard your eyes against the elements.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a familiar concept to many and the damage it can cause to your skin is well known as well. Much less well known, however, is the damage that UV radiation can do to your eyes. Too much UV radiation can give your eyes a kind of 'sunburn of the eye,' called photokeratitis, and excessive UV exposure over your lifetime can significantly increase your chances of developing serious problems with your eyes later in life, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Expert studies suggest that high-quality sunglasses can significantly reduce the amount of UV rays entering your eyes, reducing your risk of photokeratitis and long-term damage. Furthermore, since they protect the sensitive skin around the eyes from receiving too much direct UV radiation, wearing sunglasses may also help to reduce wrinkles.
Excessive UV radiation is not the only risk sunglasses can help you reduce. Everyday reflective surfaces, such as snow, water, road surfaces and car windshields, reflect a great deal of light and can do significant damage to your eyes with extended exposure. Good sunglasses can do a great deal to protect your eyes from this glare. Furthermore, sunglasses can help prevent potentially life-threatening situations by reducing the chances that bright glare may momentarily blind you while driving or biking.
Our optometrist notes that quality sunglasses are also very important for reducing eyestrain, headaches, and fatigue. The opening at the front of the eye, called the pupil, controls the amount of light that enters your eye. In conditions in which a great deal of light is present, such as when you walk outside on a very sunny day, the pupil may be unable to constrict enough to keep light to a comfortable level, causing you to squint in order to further limit the amount of incoming light. Muscle fatigue associated with constant squinting and the continued constriction of the pupil can cause headaches, fatigue, and eyestrain.
As a general rule, any time you step outside, you should wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. However, there are certain times when this is particularly true: In the summer UV radiation is at least 3 times higher than it is in the winter, and at the beach, no matter the season, reflection from the water can be quite intense. In these situations, sunglasses are an absolute must for proper eye health. This is also true if you've just had any kind of surgery or are taking medicine that makes your eyes extra sensitive to light.