The Importance of Sunglasses–UV and other radiation from the sun can harm your eyes.
Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to eye damage including cataracts, macular degeneration, pingueculae, pterygia and photokeratitis that can cause temporary vision loss. New research suggests the sun’s high-energy visible (HEV) radiation (also called “blue light”) may increase your long-term risk of macular degeneration and retinal damage. To protect your eyes from harmful solar radiation, the sunglasses you wear should block 100 percent of UV rays and also absorb most HEV rays. Larger frames cover more of your eye for better protection and frames with a close-fitting wrap around style provide the best protection because they limit how much stray sunlight reaches your eyes from above and beyond the periphery of your sunglass lenses.
UVB rays- have slightly longer wavelengths (280-315 nm). These rays are filtered partially by the ozone layer, but some still reach the earth’s surface. In low doses, UVB radiation stimulates the production of melanin (a skin pigment), causing the skin to darken, creating a suntan. In higher doses, UVB rays cause sunburn that increases the risk of skin cancer. UVB rays also cause skin discolorations, wrinkles and other signs of premature aging of the skin.
UVA rays- are closer to visible light rays and have lower energy than UVB rays. UVA rays can pass through the cornea and reach the lens and retina inside the eye. Overexposure to UVA radiation has been linked to the development of certain types of cataracts, and research suggests UVA rays may play a role in development of macular degeneration.
Kids need UV protection even more than adults
The risk of damage to our eyes and skin from solar UV radiation is cumulative, meaning the danger continues to grow as we spend time in the sun throughout our lifetime. With this in mind, it’s especially important for kids to protect their eyes from the sun. Children generally spend much more time outdoors than adults. In fact, some experts say that because children tend to spend significantly more time outdoors than most adults, up to half of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV radiation can occur by age 18.
Sunglasses that protect your eyes from UV and HEV rays
To best protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV and HEV rays, always wear good quality sunglasses when you are outdoors. Look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays and that also absorb most HEV rays. To protect as much of the delicate skin around your eyes as possible, try at least one pair of sunglasses with large lenses or a close-fitting wraparound style and wear a wide brimmed hat.
Our opticians can help you choose the best sunglass lenses for your needs.
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