From sunburn to skin cancer, almost everyone is aware of the damage ultraviolet (UV) radiation can inflict on their skin. However, very few understand the dangers of UV exposure to their eyesight. In fact, while more than 8 out of 10 Americans know that extended UV exposure can cause skin cancer, fewer than 1 out of 10 know it can harm their eyes. Additionally, 20 percent of Americans mistakenly believe that UV damage is reversible.
Because so few people understand the detrimental effects of UV exposure, many aren’t taking the best steps to protect and preserve their vision. For example, less than half of Americans get a regular eye exam, which can be instrumental in detecting and preventing serious vision problems and eye disease. Additionally, more than 4 out of 10 people don’t wear UV blocking sunglasses during the winter months when UV rays are still a threat.
Did you know that wearing an inadequate pair of sunglasses can be worse than wearing no sun protection at all?
If a pair of sunglasses offers no UV protection, the wearer is actually increasing his or her exposure to UV rays. The inadequate sunglasses will block some of the light, causing the pupil of the eye to enlarge and allow more light in. This also lets in more UV light, increasing the amount of damaging light reaching the retina.
Quality sunglasses are designed to absorb UVA and UVB rays. However, not all sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays, and therefore may not be effective in preventing sun damage to the eyes.
What's the deal with Polarized Lenses?
Polarized lenses are helpful in blocking polarized light. This type of light is created by reflected light. When bright light bounces off of horizontal surfaces such as water, cars, snow, or the highway, it can cause intense glare. Bright glares make it difficult or impossible to see. Polarized lenses can be beneficial for certain situations, including driving, skiing, and fishing because they cut the scattered light causing a glare. Fishermen, for example, often use polarized lenses to help them see beneath the water and better locate fish. While most polarized lenses have built-in UV-blocking features, it is important to check the lens labeling to determine if the sunglasses offer full protection. Regardless of the type of sun protection chosen, the quality of the lens is important.