With summer approaching and temperatures rising, it becomes easier to remember to reach for your sunglasses. However, don’t forget, sunglasses hold the same value even in the winter months for the protection and health of your eyes from UV light.
Ultraviolet light, also known as UV light, is a type of light that has a very short wavelength and cannot be seen by the human eye. UV light is present in sunlight and makes up about 10% of the light emitted by the sun. Overexposure to UV light has many damaging effects to the body including sunburns and skin cancers, as well as many different eye conditions.
UV light can cause significant damage to the eye including: photokeratitis, pingueculas, pterygiums, cataracts, and retinal damage. However, many of these conditions can be prevented or halted by the use of sunglasses on a daily basis.
Sunglasses come in many forms and tints and it is important to know the type of sunglasses you are investing in along with the benefits they have or do not have. Although they may be stylish, many affordable sunglasses found at drugstores or “big box” stores do not have UV protection and have no benefit to the health of the eyes other than limiting the amount of light to enter your eye. You should always make sure the lenses say 100% UVA and UVB protected before buying.
Polarized lenses are a popular option for many people. These lenses reduce the amount of reflected light that enters the eye. This works to decrease a significant amount of glare, make images appear clearer and sharper, and increase visual comfort. Polarized lenses have been found to be especially useful when fishing. One downside to polarized lenses is that many screen monitors and devices may not be visible through the lenses.
Glasses with yellow tint may also be a beneficial option. Yellow lenses have been shown to reduce glare from lights when driving at night and reduce the amount of halos around oncoming headlights.
Some lenses have blue blocking protection. Blue light is the shortest type of visible light and studies have shown that its effects can be damaging to the retina. In addition, blue light has been found to throw off sleep patterns. Blue light is emitted from all digital devices so it can be beneficial to avoid devices before bed or wear blue blocking lenses when using these devices.
Exposure to UV light is more intense at higher altitudes due to less filtering by the atmosphere and/or reflection from snow covered mountains. Therefore, it is especially important to wear proper eye protection while skiing or doing other mountain activities.
The good news is, if you have had cataract surgery in at least the last 20 years, the lenses that were put in your eyes are 100% UV blocking. The retina in the back of your eye is completely protected from any possible UV damage. However, the cornea in the front of your eye can still be harmed. In addition, many people find everything to be brighter after cataract surgery, so sunglasses are still a common and useful tool!