Overexposure to UV rays can cause cataracts; eye cancer; photokeratitis, or temporary sun blindness; and pterygium, also known as surfer’s eye. While many people have gotten smarter about protecting their skin from the sun, people still forget to take precautions to protect their eyes.
For example, according to an online survey, about 53 percent of adults believe that if sunglasses have dark enough lenses, eyes are protected from UV rays. But sunglasses should be rated UV400 or 100 percent UV protection for the best protection. A sticker on the lenses shows their rating.
This same survey found that 68 percent of adults with light-colored eyes didn’t know they were more photosensitive, and while 83 percent agree that sunglasses should be worn when it’s overcast, only 17 percent actually do!
Here are four other tips for picking sunglasses:
- Size matters: The more coverage sunglasses give you, the better they protect from UV rays. Think about wrap-around or aviator sunglasses, or oversized sunglasses.
- Color doesn’t: Sunglass lenses can come in a variety of colors including red, pink, green, amber, or gray. As long as they are rated UV400, they filter the appropriate amount of rays. Some shades provide higher contrast.
- Polarized lenses don’t reduce UV exposure: Again, be sure to check the UV rating. Polarized lenses do reduce glare from water or other reflexive surfaces, making beach time, drive time, or slope time more enjoyable.
- Cost shouldn’t matter: Whether you’re shopping at Target® or the high-end eyeglass store at the mall, as long as the sunglasses have a high UV rating, they provide good protection.
54% of adults have light-colored eyes (blue, hazel, or green).
Light-colored eyes are more photosensitive.
Other things that affect photosensitivity:
- Cataracts and cataract surgery
- Photosensitizing drugs, including certain antibiotics and some birth control medications
- Retin-A skin cream
Children and UV exposure:
The good news: Being outdoors and exposure to UV light can help children sleep better at night and reduce the risks of being nearsighted.
The bad news: While 74% of parents make their children wear sunscreen, only 32% make them wear UV-protected sunglasses.
Tips for Safety in the Sun
- Choose sunglasses labeled “UV400” or “100% UV protection”
- Wear broad-brimmed hats (baseball caps count!)
- Never look directly at the sun