Get Shady: Why You Should Wear Sunglasses - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on July 29, 2015

Get Shady: Why You Should Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses protect your eyes from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can harm your eyes and increase your risk of developing cataracts.

Sunglasses protect your eyes from exposure to
ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can harm your eyes
and increase your risk of developing cataracts.

For many years, doctors have been telling us how important it is to wear sunscreen. It protects your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause sunburns, premature aging and skin cancer. As annoying as it can be to slather on thick, white sunblock, you do it to protect your skin.

Your eyes also need protection from the sun and it’s easier and less messy to do than applying sunscreen. You can do it just by wearing sunglasses.

If you have a stylish or classic pair of sunglasses, wearing them can instantly make you feel hip or glamorous. But they are more than a fashion statement – sunglasses are essential when it comes to safeguarding the health of your eyes and the surrounding tissue.

Just as UV rays can damage your skin, they can also harm your eye’s cornea and lens. Long-term exposure to these rays increases your risk of developing cataracts, which cloud your eye’s lens, resulting in impaired vision. When cataracts blur your vision, it makes it more difficult to read, drive a car or see facial expressions.

Cataracts typically develop slowly, only affecting a small part of your eye’s lens. Since it’s so small, most people don’t notice any vision loss early on. However, as a cataract grows larger over time, more of your lens becomes clouded, distorting the light that passes through it.

In a cataract’s early stages, most people can see better with glasses or stronger lighting. But, as cataracts progress to the point where your impaired vision interferes with your daily activities, you may require surgery.

By diligently wearing sunglasses, you can greatly lower your risk of cataracts. Wearing sunglasses also protects the skin and tissues surrounding your eyes, where you could develop wrinkles, skin cancer or growths as a result of UV damage.

Exposure to UV radiation has also been linked to macular degeneration, which can be treated, but not cured – it’s a disease of the macula, a part of the retina that’s essential for sharp vision.

Again, like sunscreen, you should wear sunglasses anytime you’re outside and year round, not just in the summer. Protecting your eyes requires picking the right sunglasses.

The price of sunglasses doesn’t matter. What is important is that they can block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays – you’ll know if the pair you picked out do this by looking at the tag or sticker on them.

When it comes to polarized sunglasses, the increased price doesn’t necessarily mean your eyes are more protected. It means that your glasses will reduce glare to help you see better. When this is paired with complete UV protection, it’s great. But, UV protection is the key.

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