Sunglasses can perform many roles, including making you look stylish or protecting your anonymity, but their most important benefits by far have to do with saving and preserving your ocular health. These fashionable accessories can protect you against harmful radiation that can cause irreversible eye damage or initiate progressive eye diseases — but only if you select the right product for the job. Let us examine what sunglasses can do for your eyes and vision, and how to choose them with care.
Sunglasses can keep your eyes from being exposed to dangerous amounts of ultraviolet (UV) rays. This form of radiation is a band of light frequencies just below the visible range and just above the x-ray band of the spectrum. One type of of UV, UVC, never gets close enough to your eyes to harm them because the Earth’s atmosphere stops them. But the other two types of UV radiation, UVA and UVB, can both do serious harm to your eyes.
In the short term, UV rays can cause a kind of conjunctival redness and irritation known as photokeratitis, the equivalent of a sunburned eyeball. Over time, more insidious problems can develop. Cataracts, a clouding of lens tissue that causes progressive vision loss and distortion, are known to be accelerated by UV exposure. Excessive UV exposure can also cause permanent destruction of the retina of the eye in the form of macular degeneration. Both of these conditions can lead to blindness. Another issue caused by UV exposure, and one that many people never consider at all, is eyelid cancer. This form of cancer can include the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma.
Sunglass Selection Tips from Your Hendersonville, North Carolina Eye Doctor Team
Sunglasses can literally save your sight, especially if you spend lots of time outdoors. The eye doctor team at our Hendersonville, North Carolina clinic would like to point out that UV rays are just as harmful to the eyes on cloudy days as they are on sunny days, so these accessories should be considered year-round necessities instead of just summertime beachwear. In addition to keeping UV rays out of your eyes and off of your eyelids, they can lower glare levels that might otherwise make clear vision impossible, thus preventing auto accidents or other hazards.
But the type of sunglasses you choose can make a major difference in how much benefit you receive from them. Always check to make sure the sunglasses block 100 percent (or at least 99 percent) of all UVA and UVB, and/or that they block 100 percent of all light waves up to 400 nanometers in length. (The latter will be labeled as “UV 400” sunglasses.) If you plan on spending time near the water in driving on reflective surfaces, make sure the sunglasses are also polarized so that they will cut that extra glare. Hendersonville Eye Care has a great selection, so ask an optometrist at our team for assistance!
Has your optometrist ever had to treat you for photokeratitis? Tell us how you came down with the condition!