If you are like most people, you would never spend a day on the beach without protecting your skin from sun damage. Yet many people will often expose their eyes to the same dangers day after day without giving it a second thought. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is as harmful to the eyes as it is to the skin. While there is no worry about cancer from exposing the eyes to the sun, vision loss is a major concern. The good news is that the eyes can be easily protected with one simple solution—a good pair of sunglasses.
Just how dangerous to the eyes is the sun? People who do not protect their eyes from the UV rays from the sun are at higher risk for serious eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. These diseases can eventually lead to permanent vision loss. The cornea can also be burnt by the sun, a condition known as keratitis. Keratitis is very painful and leads to temporary loss of vision.
Direct exposure to sunlight is not the only danger. The eyes are also at risk from the sun’s glare, which also contains UV rays and can cause general eye fatigue. Glare can come from water, snow, and even the sand on the beach. Also, eyes are vulnerable even on cloudy days, because cloud cover does not block the dangerous UV rays.
One of the dangers of UV rays to the eyes is the fact that not all sunglasses protect eyes from this damage. Any pair of sunglasses will make it easier to see on a bright day and cut down on eye strain caused by sunny conditions, but not all sunglasses offer UV protection. When shopping for a pair of sunglasses, be sure to choose a pair that is treated to protect against UV rays.
Besides protecting eyes from UV rays, sunglasses also protect them from the wind. Overexposure to wind can cause eyes to dry out, which leads to burning, itching and irritation. While this may not cause permanent vision damage, it is uncomfortable, and simply putting on a pair of sunglasses can alleviate this problem.
Quality sunglasses also provide some measure of protection from things that may hit the eye. The best sunglasses have shatter and impact resistance built in, and this means they provide a layer of protection between your fragile eyes and the world around you. In many states, shatter-resistant sunglasses are required as eye protection for motorcycle riders for this reason. They can also be worn in high-impact sports to protect the eyes from injury. Even if you do not plan to be in one of these situations, shop for shatter resistant sunglasses when it’s time to purchase your next pair.
If you wear prescription eye glasses, it’s a great idea to invest in a pair of prescription sunglasses. Sunglasses are not just a convenience item that makes spending time outside more pleasant. With the damage that UV rays can cause, wearing sunglasses may just save your eyesight.