When you think about sun damage, you probably think about the sun’s effects on your skin. But your eyes (and the sensitive skin around your eyes) are just as susceptible to harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Just as you use sunblock to protect your skin, you should wear UV protection sunglasses for your eyes. Below, we explain the effects UV exposure has on your eyes and how you can protect them from sun damage.
EFFECTS OF UV RAYS
UVA rays are more prevalent than UVB rays, but not nearly as powerful1.
UVA rays can pass through the cornea to reach the lens and retina inside your eyes.
Overexposure to UVA radiation has been linked to the retinal damage associated with central vision loss and macular degeneration. UVA damage can also lead to the development of certain types of cataracts, which is a clouding of the lens that leads to decreased vision.
Even though they are partially filtered by the ozone layer, UVB rays are more intense than UVA rays. UVB rays are believed to cause sunburns and most skin cancers1.
In small doses, exposure to UVB rays can cause photokeratitis (also called snow blindness). This causes painful inflammation of the cornea and can lead to temporary vision loss.
HOW TO PROTECT
YOUR EYES FROM UV
The best way to protect your eyes from UV rays is to wear UV-blocking sunglasses whenever you're outside. Purchase sunglasses from a brand you trust or have them checked by an optician at a LensCrafters store. Whether you’re a fashionista or a trail-trekker, there are plenty of frame and lens options to choose from that will keep your eyes protected.
If you need vision correction, prescription sunglasses are a great way to keep your vision clear while protecting your eyes. Ray-Ban®, Oakley® and many other brands offer prescription sunglasses designed to block UV rays, so you can wear the frames you love while giving your eyes the protection they need.
Damage caused by UV exposure — whether on the skin or the eyes — is cumulative, which means it collects over time2. So, even after your sunburn heals and your skin appears to return to normal, the damage is still there. In other words, every time you’re exposed to UV radiation, your level of sun damage increases.
Children’s eyes are even more vulnerable to UV damage than adults. This is because the lens of a child’s eye cannot filter UV light as effectively as an adult’s eye3. This is one of many reasons it’s essential to start wearing sunglasses at an early age.
When shopping for sunglasses with UV protection, look for lenses that are rated UV400 or higher. This means the lenses will block 99.9% of UVA and UVB rays. If you’re planning to be around snow or water, sunglasses with polarized lenses can keep your vision clear and comfortable by reducing glare.
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