Protecting Your Eyes From The Sun: What You Need To Know
We always talk about the damaging effects of the sun on our skin: sun exposure can cause skin cancer, for one thing, but also things like wrinkles and age spots. In fact, when we think of how our skin ages over time, it sags, tears, and generally becomes much more fragile.
Well, what about our eyes?
The Sun’s Effect On Our Eyes
Even though it is less talked about than skin damage, the sun can have a very damaging effect on our eyes, especially after prolonged or direct exposure. Ultra-violet (UV) rays from the sun may contribute to damaging the cells in our eyes and lead to long-term issues. UV rays from the sun may contribute to the causes of the following:
- Macular degeneration
- And photokeratitis, which is essentially a “sunburn of your cornea”. (Yes, that’s right: your eyes can get sunburnt. This can lead to blurred vision, light sensitivity, and even temporarily blindness, often referred to as “snow blindness”)
How To Protect Your Eyes From The Sun?
The most common way to protect your eyes from the UV rays of the sun is by wearing sunglasses.
These are able to block some UV rays that may cause damage to your eyes and help protect them from harmful effects. And if you think a wide-brimmed hat or a snow cap is enough to block out these harmful rays, think again: snow, water, dry sand, and sea foam are all able to reflect the sun’s UV rays back up into your face, making sunglasses necessary for protecting your eyes.
But how do you know what kind of sunglasses are right for you?
Types Of Sunglasses
First we explore sunglasses. Just about every corner store or drug shop sells sunglasses, but which types of sunglasses are actually going to help you?
Many of the different types of sunglasses on offer are not actually going to protect your eyes from the sun, but rather serve as a fashion accessory, which doesn’t actually help you. To evaluate the type of sunglasses that are right for you, you first need to know what to look for.
For starters, you want to get sunglasses that fit you properly, so they actually cover your eyes. Look at the guidelines for fitting regular glasses for an idea of what size to look for. Second, look for wrap-around sunglasses so that you can be protected from the sides as well as the front.
In addition to this, you’ll want to look for sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays between 290 and 400 nanometers (this should be indicated on the glasses, or someone at the store should be able to tell you). Remember, the hue of the sunglass lenses has nothing to do with UV protection - that is entirely your preference!
You may want to consider prescription sunglasses. The lenses of prescription sunglasses will have your exact prescription, so you won’t need to combine them with contact lenses or worse, squint to read while enjoying some time in the sun.
You may also want to go one step farther to protect your eyes, particularly if you’re a watersport fanatic - and that’s where polarised sunglasses work the best.
Polarised sunglasses are highly specialised sunglass type designed to eliminate harsh, blinding glare from highly reflective surfaces, such as snow and water, to increase visual comfort and performance.
Benefits of polarised sunglasses compare to non-polarised sunglasses
- You have greater visibility into the water when engaging in fishing or water sports
- You can better see objects when it is very bright
- There is less strain on your eyes trying to fight through glare
- Colours are not distorted
- Reflections (such as off water or glass) are cut down
What Type Of Sunglasses Are For You?
Polarised sunglasses are not for everyone: they can make it difficult to see LCD screens, reduce contrasts in light, and they are more expensive than non-polarised sunglasses. However, it is good to know the different options available for you. The most important thing to remember when buying sunglasses is to make sure your eyes are protected properly from the sun. Be sure to talk to your eye care provider to learn what is the best type of sunglasses for you.
The Clear Lens Option for Sun Protection
If you fall into the third category of not wanting to wear sunglasses or polarised lenses, then there are still options for you. Lens coatings can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays but stay invisible to the naked eye. These coatings are ideal additions to your existing pair of glasses or new spectacles if you spend a lot of time in the sun.
For those who like darkened lenses like sunglasses when in the sunlight, but don’t want to carry multiple pairs of glasses, there is the option of Transition lenses. These photochromic or adaptive lenses, can darken or lighten depending on the intensity of the light outside. They help protect your eyes from the sun, as well as provide clear and comfortable vision regardless if you’re in the bright sun or in a dimly light room.
Protecting your eyes is essential, but comfort is also important. Picking the correct option to block harmful UV rays and maintaining clear vision throughout your day is dependent on the person. If you’re unsure or would like to speak to an expert, it is recommended to speak to an optician who will be able to provide you with suitable options.
Want to protect your eyes from the sun?
Visit your nearest optical store today and find the best solution for your needs