Have you ever wondered; are sunglasses just a fashion statement? Do they really help block out the harmful rays from the sun and prevent damage to your eyes? What eye conditions or diseases can result from overexposure to UV rays?
Protect Your Eyes
Ultraviolet rays can damage your eyes either through intense overexposure in a short period of time or by long-term sun exposure.
- Photokeratitis: This is a common, usually temporary, eye condition that results from ultraviolet exposure. Photokeratitis is swelling of the cornea and its symptoms can include redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and pain in the eyes. Those who experience photokeratitis usually spent a day on the beach or skiing and did not wear proper UV protective sunglasses. Though photokeratitis can be temporary, treatment is necessary.
- Cataracts: Though cataracts are not caused by sun exposure, the damage done to the eye by UV rays can speed up the development of cataracts.
- Macular Degeneration: Some studies have shown that long-term exposure to UV rays may cause damage to retinal tissue or macular degeneration, though this has not been proven conclusively.
Wearing just any type of sunglasses won’t protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Ensure that your sunglasses block UVA and UVB rays and have a rating of UV400 or higher. The UV rating determines what level of light wavelengths the lenses block. The UV400 rating will block nearly 100% of UV rays.
Improve Your Vision
Side effects of varying eye conditions can cause your vision to be impaired. Sunglasses or filter lenses can not only protect your eyes from UV damage, they can also help to reduce glare, improve contrast, or increase brightness.
- Glare: Generally caused by cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degermation, glare can impair vision and make items or text difficult to see or read. Glare causes an image to appear faded, washed out, or hazy. By reducing glare, you can sharpen an image, reduce the haziness, and improve eye comfort. If your goal is to reduce glare then the most effective colors would be amber, orange, green and gray.
- Contrast Enhancement: Declining contrast sensitivity can be a result of aging eyes, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy. Losing contrast has a great effect on our vision and how we perform day-to-day activities, such as reading, walking, or climbing stairs. To enhance contrast, choose lenses that are orange, yellow, or amber.
- Increased Brightness: Due to aging eyes or an eye condition that diminishes your vision, you may find times when you need increased brightness while still reducing glare or improving contrast. Low light situations such as after sunset, foggy days, or indoors with limited lighting may call for increased brightness. In these situations, you may consider yellow or light orange lenses with no added tint.