The Effect of Sunglasses on Eye Health
While having a pair of designer frames may accent your look, and designer sunglasses move you up into a whole new level of cool, sunglasses are also an important year round asset for protecting your vision. Proper sunglasses are key to protecting your eyes from sun-related damage, and should be worn anytime you are outdoors. A 2014 survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology found that only 32 percent of parents make their kids wear sunglasses that are rated to block UV light. The sun produces many different kinds of light. The kinds most likely to injure the eye are: ultraviolet radiation or UV light; bright or intense light; and blue light.
According to Health Canada, “UV rays carry more energy than visible light rays, so the eye is at greater risk of damage from absorbing UV radiation than from absorbing other kinds of light.” These rays can cause, or speed up the progress of several diseases that affect the eye or its supporting structures. Sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation varies from one person to the next.
Your eyes become damaged when they absorb light. The process creates heat or chemical reactions in eye tissue. These reactions can cause permanent damage if the eye’s natural ability to heal itself is overwhelmed. How? If visible light is too bright or intense, or if you stare directly at the sun, even briefly, the retina can be damaged, causing permanent loss of vision. There is some evidence that daily exposure to UV radiation in very bright sunlight over many years may increase the risk of developing cataracts. In winter, UV radiation, along with wind and drying of the eye, may cause snow blindness, an uncomfortable but temporary condition.
What can you do? Start by minimizing the risk by wearing a wide-brimmed hat or visor when you are out in bright sunlight, and by avoiding exposure to bright sunlight, especially in the summer between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Choosing the proper eyewear is important – they need to fit properly your face, without distorting your vision, and dark enough to keep your eyes comfortable, but not so dark that they reduce your vision. You should also understand that you can’t tell how much UV protection a pair of sunglasses will provide by their price, colour, or by the darkness of the lenses. Manufacturers follow voluntary industry standards when labelling these products. So before you even think about buying a pair of sunglasses, read the label for sunglasses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
Sunglasses however, cannot protect your eyes from certain intense light sources including Arc welding, tanning bed lights, snowfields, or gazing directly at the sun, speak with Dr. Jade for the appropriate measures to take to protect your eyes in special situations.