The right sunglasses can elevate your outfit and frame your face in a way that enhances your best features. But sunglasses are much more than a fashionable accessory. They can provide protection from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays.
If your eyes are unprotected and exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period of time, even just a few hours, you may experience an effect called photokeratitis, known as a “sunburn of the eye.”
“Photokeratitis may be painful and include symptoms such as red eyes, a foreign-body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing,” said Karl Citek, O.D., Ph.D., chair of the AOA Commission on Ophthalmic Standards. “Fortunately, this is usually temporary and rarely causes permanent damage to the eyes.”
Long-term overexposure to UV radiation over the course of one’s life can cause more serious problems, such as damage to the eye, which can result in cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, pterygium (an abnormal growth of the white of the eye onto the cornea, or clear window at the front of the eye) and cancer of the eyelids, skin around the eye and even the eye itself.
Here are a few tips on how to pick sunglasses that protect your eyes.
They Block Harmful UV Rays
Unfortunately, 47 percent of consumers do not check the UV protection level before purchasing sunglasses. Don’t be one of those guys. Be sure your sunglasses block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays.
They Screen Visible Light
Your sunglasses should screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
The Frame Fits Your Face
The frame of your sunglasses needs to fit close to your eyes and contour to the shape of your face. This prevents exposure to UV rays from all sides, even from behind.
The Lenses Are in Good Condition
Pick lenses that are perfectly matched in color and are free of distortion and imperfection.
The Lenses Have Proper Tint
Lenses should also have a uniform tint, not darker in one area from another. A gray tint, which is particularly helpful when driving, offers the best color recognition.
To be sure your sunglasses will properly protect your eyes, your best resource is your optometrist who will also help ensure your eyes are healthy through yearly, comprehensive eye exams.