How many times have you purchased a pair of sunglasses because they made you look cool, without regard to the amount of protection they will provide? I’m guilty as charged. Dark lenses and a hefty price tag aren’t necessarily indicative of quality. Good sunglasses should shield your eyes from bright sunlight and damaging UV radiation. There are some important things to consider when choosing sunglasses and protecting your family’s eyes this summer.
1. Style. I know what I said before, but style does matter when choosing your sunglasses. Look for styles with a larger lens size. A larger lens will protect your eyes from the sun. A good guide is to choose a frame that reaches your brow bone at the top and at the bottom reaches the top of your cheek bone.
2. UV blockage. Make sure that the glasses you purchase state that the lenses block at least 95 percent of UVA rays and 99 percent of UVB rays. If these minimums are not clearly stated, then it’s time to move on to a different pair of sunglasses.
3. A wrap around shape. Glasses with wide arms that wrap around your temple will help to block damaging UV rays.
Why does it matter? UV rays can damage the eyes, affecting surface tissues and internal structures, such as the cornea and lens. Long term exposure to UV radiation can lead to cataracts and skin cancer around the eyes. Excessive exposure to UV radiation can burn the front surface of the eye, similar to the sunburn you get on your skin.
Risk from the sun is greatest between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, so be sure to protect your eyes during these hours.
What about children? Children should also wear sunglasses, but not toy glasses. Children also need sunglasses that indicate the UV-protection level just as with adults. Polycarbonate lenses are generally recommended for children because they are the most shatter-resistant.
It’s summertime and most of us will be spending more time outdoors, so let’s not forget to protect our eyes. I speak from experience, as someone who almost had a corneal transplant as a young woman. Before heading outdoors this summer, please remember your sunglasses.