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Sunglasses, the Sunscreen for our Eyes!

June 12, 2011

It is easy to forget about wearing sunglasses when one has to worry about the rest of their body being exposed to the sun, but it is still very important.  Sunglasses are not just a great fashion statement, but also an excellent health precaution.  The sun can do serious damage to our eyes even though we may not be able to visibly see the damage until much later.  The sun’s UV rays have been shown to cause both cataracts and photokeratitis, which are both easily preventable by wearing sunglasses.

Cataracts are benign growths on the eye’s surface.  It causes a clouding to develop on the lens of the eye and has varying degrees from slight to complete opacity.  Cataracts normally develop slowly to cause vision loss that is potentially blinding if untreated.  The condition will normally affect both eyes, but one eye will show symptoms earlier.  When going for an eye check up, most optometrists will check for cataracts.

Photokeratitis is directly caused by insufficient protection of the eyes to UV rays.  It is akin to a sunburn of the eye and is not usually noticed until several hours after exposure.  Symptoms include increased tears, and a feeling of gritty pain in the eye.  Thankfully, just like a sunburn, this condition does go away within a few hours after being removed from the sun and can be treated easily.  This condition is easily preventable by wearing sunglasses with UV protection!

Doctor Beebe of Brainerd Eye Care Center noted five reasons to wear sunglasses in Marrecca Flore’s article from Fox News.   The first and main reason to wear sunglasses is to protect your eyes from UV rays.  Wide brimmed hats do protect against some sunlight, but most doctors say it is not enough.

The second reason is to protect one’s eyes against blue-light.  Blue light is the UV portion of the solar spectrum and has been known to increase macular degeneration, which is an age related loss of vision.

The third reason is for comfortable vision, the sun’s brightness can cause us to squint which results in headaches and achy eyes.  Sunglasses provide our eyes with protection and relaxation so that we may see comfortably. 

The fourth reason is that long amounts of sun exposure to the eyes can cause the eyes to slow down their adaption to the dark or indoor light levels.  Have you ever had the feeling of your house being too dark after being in the back yard for a long time, that is because your eyes are having a hard time adapting to the new lighting!

The last reason to protect your eyes is skin cancer.  Cancer of the eyelids and skin around the eye is more common than most people may believe.  Wearing sunglasses protects these areas from exposure to the sun, especially because these areas can be hard to reach with sunscreen.

It is important to keep your eyes healthy and get yearly check-ups.  One does not need to buy expensive sunglasses in order to protect their eyes properly.  Sunglasses need to have UV protection or a UV filter, and purchasing gray colored lenses are better for your eyes because they keep the most natural colored vision.  Although most optometrists will recommend you buy sunglasses from their offices, some of the low-cost sunglasses now have “seals of approval” which guarantees their effectiveness.  Here is a great website to teach your kids about how the eye works and to explain why it is important to protect your eyes.

Protecting your eyes from a young age is also very important.  Many companies, including Sun Protection Zone, are coming out with eyewear for infants and children that have a band to keep the sunglasses on.  For older children the arms of the sunglasses have padding that helps to hold on to the head better.  Protecting our eyes are just as important as protecting our skin, remember to wear sunglasses whenever your eyes are exposed to sunlight!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2011 12:54 pm

    I’ve never heard of cancer of the eyelids! Thanks for the very informational article.

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