ORLANDO, Florida – Summer is here and that means more time outdoors and in the sun. But too much sun can wreak havoc on your eyes if you don’t protect them. It’s a scary fact, but three point two million people go blind every year due to prolonged UV exposure and whether you’re at the pool, beach or park. Before leaving, do not forget to take your sunglasses!
UV levels from the sun’s rays are three times higher in summer than in winter and can damage the eyes and lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, ocular melanoma and other conditions. To stay safe, make sure you choose the right pair of sunglasses. First, look for a sticker that says 100% UV protection against all UV light. Polarized lenses reduce glare that bounces off reflective surfaces, but polarization alone does not provide UV protection. And the color of the lens doesn’t necessarily matter.
“A pair of dark glasses may be your preference, but that doesn’t mean you have great UV protection,” says Dr. George A. Cioffi.
The UV-absorbing chemicals on sunglasses are colorless, so clear lenses can block light just as well as dark lenses. Plus, sunglasses don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Drugstore glasses labeled as 100% UV blocker are a better choice than brand name glasses that don’t offer the protection. And the size of the lens matters. Larger, oversized lenses offer the best protection.
“They should curl up a bit,” says Dr. Cioffi.
People with green, hazel or blue eyes are more sensitive to light and more susceptible to UV damage. Sunglasses should be worn at all times outdoors during the day when the UV index is three or higher. They should also be worn regardless of cloudiness, as over 90% of rays can penetrate through clouds.