When you chose your last pair of sunglasses, was it their shape or color that stood out the most, or was it something more like UV protection? If you’re like most people, chances are you lean more toward a certain style, viewing your sunglasses as a functional fashion accessory. It is important to us that we provide our patients with the information that will help them avoid unhealthy eye conditions. This means we have to shine the light on the true purpose of sunglasses.
What your Sunglasses Really do
- Glare protection. This is the primary function that we associate with sunglasses. We don our shades to, well, give us shade from the bright glare of the sun! When we have to squint and put a hand up to see, we clearly aren’t seeing as clearly as we should. This can be frustrating, and also uncomfortable. All that squinting can be quite the headache – literally!
- UV protection. While we do want our sunglasses to give us a reprieve from sunlight, there is much more to is. UV exposure can really do a number on our eyes, increasing our risk for cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and sunburn (you read that right).
- Blue-light protection. There are numerous colors in the spectrum of sunlight, and research has demonstrated a particular concern related to blue and violet wavelengths.
- Adaptation. Have you ever gone outside for just a moment, and then gone back indoors? Were you stopped in your tracks by “blindness?” Our eyes need to adapt to different degrees of light. The longer we remain in the sun without sunglasses on, the longer it takes for our eyes to really adapt to darker light levels.
How to Protect your Eyes
Wear sunglasses! This is the short answer. The longer answer is to wear sunglasses every day, even when the sun isn’t shining. You want 100% UV protection. That includes UVA and UVB, or broad-spectrum filtering. If you want the truest visual acuity in terms of colors, choose sunglasses with a grey tint. Finally, for the ultimate reduction in glare, choose polarized lenses.
Your sunglasses can exhibit fashionable form and function, keeping you better protected from unhealthy conditions.