By Rupe Hansra, OD
Are you aware of the damage that can occur to your eyes just because you’re playing or working outside? There’s growing awareness that ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun damage your vision and that polarized sunglasses can help you fight back.
Did you know that:
- Everyone can be affected by UV eye damage: children, teens, adults and senior citizens.
- Damage begins early in life and grows as we age.
- UV eye damage can trigger cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cancer of the eye, eyelid or skin around the eye, wrinkles and premature aging.
- Glare from the sun is also a danger and a major safety issue for drivers.
The simplest way to fight sun damage to your eyes is by wearing sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays. You may have heard the term polarized lenses, which provide clearer vision by reducing glare and UV eye damage.
But that’s not the end of the story when it comes to choosing the most convenient and most effective sun protection. You have many options to choose from. How do you know which is best for you?
As an eye care professional for many years, I think the best way to decide is for you to know more about each type of eyewear and how it might help you.
- Clip-on or magnetically attached sun lenses can be taken off and on quickly as you go in and out of the sun. Make sure these lenses are effective in blocking UV rays.
- Photochromic lenses adjust with lighting conditions, turning darker in sunlight. While convenient, UV rays are required to activate the tint. Because most car windshields block a significant amount of UV, photochromic lenses don’t darken well once you’re in the vehicle.
- If you wear contact lenses you may wish to have prescription sunglasses for many outdoor situations and avoid wearing contact lenses while swimming, on the beach, etc. Otherwise, contact lenses have some UV protective coating, but you will still need to wear regular sunglasses.
- Polarized prescription sunglasses provide UV protection for eyes and reduce glare and eye strain. You may find that prescription sunglasses are clearer, convenient and worth the money.
Don’t forget to visit your eye doctor once a year for a comprehensive eye exam . And be sure to ask about the best eye protection from the sun for you.
(Dr. Hansra is a senior director of vision care for LensCrafters. A graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry, he is a licensed optometrist in the States of Illinois and California.)