Nobody loves a good accessory more than I do. Throw in some really great health benefits to an accessory and I’m ALL IN!! Sunglasses are so much fun. They literally come in every size, shape, color, material and style known to any one on planet earth. Some wonder if they really do serve a purpose, other than looking cool and not causing you to squint in the bright sunlight. All sunglass collectors will be happy to hear that YES, they do provide some great benefits for your eye health. Let’s take a look into the medical research and doctor’s advice on why your most attractive accessory is great for the health of your eyes!
What The Sun Can Do To Your Eyes
Just as we know that the sun can damage our skin, it can also damage our eyes.
- The sun puts off ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) that your eyes need protection from
- UVA rays can harm the macula in your eye, it is in the back part of your eye and is responsible for allowing you to see the details in everything. As part of the retina, the macula sends signals to your brain that helps your eyes turn light into crisp, clear images
- The sun’s rays have violet and blue parts to them that can damage your retina
- The cornea and lens at the front part of your eye can be damaged by UVB rays. Your eyes have a lens that lets in light and helps the cornea to focus the light on the retina
- Rays that come from man made objects like tanning beds, lasers and welding machines can also expose you to UV rays that can damage your eyes
The Diseases You Can Experience From Sun Damage To Your Eyes
Sun damage to your eyes is a real and serious problem, one that isn’t addressed enough. Several eye medical conditions that can develop as a result of damage due to sun exposure are:
- Photokeratitis - This is the equivalent of a sunburn to your eye. Redness, blurriness, pain, tears, sensitivity to bright light, a gritty sensation in your eye, and seeing halos are some of the symptoms of photokeratitis. Luckily these symptoms do not last too long and there isn’t permanent damage
- Cataracts - Cataracts form as a result of long term eye exposure to UV rays. It makes the lenses in your eyes cloudy. Seeing two of everything, blurriness, trouble seeing at night, light sensitivity, and impaired viewing of bright colors are all symptoms of cataracts
- Macular Degeneration - A genetic eye disease caused by long term eye exposure to UV rays. Trouble seeing after entering a dark place, straight lines appearing bent or wavy, and trouble reading words on a page in the same color as the page are all symptoms of macular degeneration
- Pterygium - A combination of UV rays, dust and wind can cause a growth to appear on the white/clear part of the eye. A bump or yellow spot on the white part of your eye, swollen or red conjunctiva when the bump begins to grow, blurry vision, dry and itchy or burning in your eye, and a gritty feeling in your eye are all symptoms of pterygium.
- Skin Cancer around the eyes. If the skin on your upper and lower eyelids are exposed to UV rays then they are susceptible to developing skin cancer. The most common type of skin cancer around the eyes is Basal Cell Carcinoma but Squamous Cell Carcinoma is also a possibility. A growth looking brown or like a scar, sores that bleed then scab over but continue coming back, and a bump that looks waxy or pearly are symptoms of skin cancer around the eyes
Sunglasses To Prevent Eye Damage
The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that the most important thing to look for when searching for a pair of sunglasses is to make sure that they block 99-100% of both UVB and UVA radiation. As you look for your next pair of sunglasses, take this shopping list and make sure the ones you purchase have:
- Lenses that have the same level of darkness, no variation from light to dark
- Lenses that will halt 75-90% of visible light, with ophthalmologists recommending 100% UV protection
- Lenses with a gray color that will enable you to see colors the right way
- Lenses that don’t hamper your natural view
- A frame for the glasses that fits your face and is close to your eyes
- Lenses with polarization, that reduces glare
Make Sure You Can “See” A Bright Future
No matter the season, be it winter or summer, or the weather conditions, cloudy or sunny, you are always being exposed to ultraviolet rays. Snow and bodies of water are great at reflecting sunlight, so make sure that you are prepared with your sunglasses wherever you are, no matter the conditions.
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