If you’re planning to buy a new pair of glasses this summer, you’ll likely want something fashionable. After all, a pair of shades that accent your features make a huge difference in one’s getup. While there’s no one’s stopping you to get the style you want, it still pays to take a closer look at what you’re buying. Fashion means little if those brand new sunglasses fall short at the most important task – protecting your peepers from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
It’s a fact – prolonged sun exposure affects more than your skin. Those damaging UV rays can lead to a host of vision problems, some severe. The good news is that there is a range of options on the market for stylish shades that also put eye protection as a priority. Here are smart shopping tips to consider:
Why Eye Protection Matters
It’s important to understand the need for sunglasses when you’re outdoors, especially during summer. If the eyes are exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation, people may experience photokeratitis, known as a “snow blindness” or “sunburn of the eye.” This condition may be temporary, but it can be painful and include symptoms such as extreme sensitivity to light, redness, and a foreign-body sensation in the eyes.
Do you find yourself squinting in the sun when you’re trying to focus your eyes on an object? This is something many drivers struggle with and it usually makes the eyes water. Bright sunlight and its glare simply impede one’s ability to see comfortably.
Shield From UV Rays
The UV radiation can damage the skin of the eyelid as well as the lens, cornea, and other parts of the eye. Even being under the sun for a short time during a day at the beach could result in photokeratitis. Over the years, consistent UV exposure to the eyes can lead to more serious problems, including cataracts and cancer of the eye or eyelids. Wearing wide-brimmed caps and hats only block about half of these harmful rays.
Adapt To Darker Conditions
Chances are you’ve gone outside on a sunny day and then found it difficult to see once you step indoors. Spending as little as two to three hours in the sun without a pair of shades can hamper your eyes’ ability to adapt in darker conditions.
Prevent Blue-light Damage
The retina takes the brunt of the damage of long-term UV exposure. In turn, this can lead to macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in adults in the United States. The violet and blue portion of the sun’s rays have been reported to be a contributing factor in retinal damage.
Sunglasses With A Purpose
Healthy eyes are always in style. To ensure you get the best protection for your eyes, the American Optometric Association recommends buying sunglasses with these features:
- Lenses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays.
- Screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
- Free of distortion and imperfection.
- Both lenses are perfectly matched in color.
- A frame that contours to the shape of your face and sits close to your eyes. This prevents sun exposure from all sides, even from behind.
- Prescription glasses with tints and full UV shield. While some contacts also offer UV blocking, these should be worn with sunglasses to maximize your protection.
- Wear the shades in front of a mirror. If you can see your eyes too easily, the lenses may not be dark enough.
Other Ways To Keep Your Eyes Safe
Hazards to the eyes are literally everywhere – from yard work to chemicals in pools. Secure better protection for your precious eyes when in these situations:
Doing Home Projects
Anyone who goes behind the lawn lower should be wearing the right eye protection. Ordinary reading or sunglasses won’t do. This job requires professional quality goggles from a home supply store. A rock could fly and hit the person behind the mower or someone lower to the ground nearby. Corneal lacerations often occur from simple yard work, and it takes surgery to fix them.
Wear goggles when hammering nails, chopping wood, dealing with sawdust, or anything that can fly around. If you do take a hit in the eye but your vision remains unaffected, put some ice on it. Go to the nearest clinic if you experience a penetrating injury.
There are certain sports where an eye injury is unlikely. Essentially, the bigger the ball, the less chance of eye damage. Basketball is relatively safe, but baseballs, softballs, and golf balls – not so much. According to the U.S. Eye Injury Registry baseballs account for five percent of all eye injuries reported. Wearing a helmet, face shield, or mask is warranted when playing most ball sports.
Dealing With Chemical Hazards
If your eyes sting while swimming in a pool, it may mean the chemicals are not balanced. This rarely affects vision and is more of a comfort issue. On the other hand, if your eyes hurt underwater, it’s better to get out. There is no fun water activity worth messing with your eyes.
Doctors also warn against oak, sumac, and poison ivy. You have a few moments to wash them off if they come in contact with your eyes. When it comes to insect bites, don’t be tempted to put repellent in your eye. If you have to handle a variety of chemical hazards, wear safety goggles and make sure you do not accidentally wipe your hands near your eyes.
Summer may seem like a big eye accident waiting to happen, but you can still have fun while keeping your eyes safe. Be sure to shop smartly for sunglasses. Prepare a checklist based on AOA standards for shades. Don’t be confused by UV labels. Ask your optometrist for advice. UV blocking is, of course, very important, but having a good pair of sunglasses can also enhance your vision.
Consider the potential hazards of any activity and wear the appropriate eyewear. Whether you’re visiting the beach, playing sports, or doing housework, remember that having healthy eyes will never go out of style.