As an ophthalmology office, one of our main concerns is eye protection. It should be one of yours too! There are many ways we can protect our eyes with glasses: protective lenses to shield from debris and possible work hazards, wrap style sports glasses (in case you don’t see the ball!), and sunglasses. Today we want to talk to you about the importance and health benefit of wearing sunglasses, and why your kids should wear them too.
The sun emits UVA, UVB, and UVC ultraviolet radiation. Unfortunately for us, despite the beautiful sunny days, radiation from the sun causes damage to our eye health. The sun emits three kinds of ultraviolet radiation: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, but UVB is only partially blocked, and UVA are not filtered at all. According to the World Health Organization UVA rays cause the most damage to eye health.
Recent research by the vision council has shown that prolonged UV exposure is responsible for eye irritation, hypersensitivity to light, trouble seeing, swollen eyes, or wrinkles around the eye, and cancer on or around the eye. 27 percent of Americans report that they don’t typically wear sunglasses when they are outside!
UV radiation is present regardless of the weather or season, so it is important to wear proper eye and skin protection while outside during the day. Make sure that when you pick out a pair of sunglasses that they are fully UVA/UVB protective. Not all sunglasses will come this way, so it is imperative to look for a label indicating the level of UV protection. The darkness of the lens does not equate to the level of UV protection, so do not be fooled by super dark lenses. In fact, dark lenses without adequate UV protection can be worse than wearing no sunglasses, as they case the pupil to dilate, and in turn increase retinal exposure to UV!
The American Optometric Association suggests when purchasing sunglasses, consider the following:
All of this information is especially important for our children, be they kids, teens, or tweens. It is imperative to increase their awareness of UV damage and how wearing sunglasses will help to protect them and their developing eyes. Young eyes are especially vulnerable to UV damage, and since the damage is cumulative it may lead to severe vision problems in the future such as cataracts or macular degeneration. While teens may not fully understand the importance of long-term vision issues now, they can at least be made aware of the short-term consequences such as bloodshot eyes, swollen eyes, sunburnt eyes, or photophobia from light hypersensitivity.
For those of us with even younger children, there are a few tips we can give to increase the odds they will wear their sunglasses:
It is our recommendation that sunglasses are the best possible way to protect our eyes from UV rays. With cutting-edge lens technology and increased handiness of lighter and more stylish frames, picking out a frame shouldn’t be an issue. Wearing sun protection doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or a chore, it’s really quite fun!