Sunglasses: Why Everyone Needs To Use Them

Chelsea NYC optometrists concur with eye doctors from around the world, sunglasses are vital to protecting one’s vision. This article goes into detail as to why they are so important. Sunglasses are quite popular in many parts of the world and many people simply wear them for the “cool factor”. However, what most people might not know is that sunglasses can protect the eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, long-term exposure to UV rays can cause damage to the internal structures of the eyes. However, just buying and wearing dark sunglasses is not enough. The Mayo Clinic recommends buying sunglasses that offer 99 to 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays. With this in mind, read on to learn why it is important to wear sunglasses.

Reduce the Risk of Cataracts

Cataracts cause cloudiness in the lens of the eye making it hard for one to see clearly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20.5 million Americans aged over 40 years have cataracts. One way of reducing the risk of developing cataracts is by wearing sunglasses. In fact, a report published by the Johns Hopkins Health Alert states that UV radiation is a risk factor for cataracts. In addition, the same Health Alert recommends buying sunglasses with a UV 400 label. This means that the lenses used in the sunglasses can block UVA and UVB wavelengths below 400 nanometers. It is also wise to choose sunglasses with a frame that wraps around the sides of one’s face. Researchers from Johns Hopkins found that up to 20% of UV light could potentially get to the eyes from the sides of sunglasses.

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration (AMD) is a disorder that affects the retina (macula) leading to blurred vision. Statistics from the CDC show that up to 1.8 million Americans suffer from AMD while an additional 7.3 million are at risk of developing AMD in the future if they do not see an eye doctor immediately. In the elderly, it can cause irreversible loss of vision. A report published by the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary states that exposure to UV light can cause macular degeneration. By wearing sunglasses, you will be protecting your eyes and reducing the risk of developing AMD.

Surfer’s Eye Protection

Surfer’s eye or pterygium is a condition of the eyes that affects people who spend a lot of time outdoors. Take note that surfer’s eye does not develop overnight but over time. In simple terms, pterygium is a noncancerous lesion that develops throughout one’s lifetime until it covers the eye’s pupil blurring vision. The noncancerous lesion can affect one or both eyes. Although pterygium does not lead to complete loss of vision, it may cause inflammation and redness of the eyes. Surfer’s eye is quite common in people who live near the equator where exposure to direct sunlight is quite common. To ensure that you do not develop this eye condition, it is advisable to wear sunglasses whenever you venture outdoors.

Prevent Snow Blindness

Contrary to popular belief, sunglasses are necessary to protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays during winter especially people who love skiing. A report published by WebMD shows that more UV rays penetrate the earth’s atmosphere at higher altitudes. This means that the risk of exposure to UV rays when skiing off a mountain is higher than when skiing at lower altitudes. In addition, snow tends to reflect sunlight directly back into a skier’s eyes further doubling exposure to UV rays. As a result, sunlight burns the cornea causing one to experience snow blindness (photokeratitis). The problem with snow blindness is one does not experience eye pain immediately but hours later. It can take as much as 48 hours for the pain to subside and one may have to visit an optometrist for treatment. If you plan to go skiing during winter, make sure you have sunglasses that offer 100% protection from UVA and UVB.

Protect your Children’s Eyes

baby in sunglassesChildren just like adults require sunglasses to protect their eyes from exposure to UV light. A survey carried out by the Vision Council of America found that only 50% of children own sunglasses. This is troubling considering UV rays damage the eyes in the same way regardless of age. In addition, children’s eye lenses are more transparent making it easier for ultraviolet light to penetrate and cause damage. At the same time, figures from the Vision Council of America show that 80% of exposure to UV rays occurs before the age of 18. These statistics show that parents must ensure their children wear sunglasses and have an eye exam at least once every year. A study carried out by the Glaucoma Research Foundation found that children who wear sunglasses significantly reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts, apterygial, and photokeratitis.

Prevent Wrinkles

When outdoors during summer, most people squint in order to see clearly in bright sunlight. As a result, they develop wrinkles around the eyes. With time, these wrinkles will make you look older than your actual age. Wearing sunglasses will ensure you do not have to squint.

Wearing sunglasses is a great way to protect your eyes from the damage that ultraviolet rays can cause and at the same time, they may reduce the risk of developing the following eye problems:

  • Cataracts
  • Surfer’s eye
  • Macular degeneration
  • Snow blindness