Wearing sunglasses is critical to protecting your eyesight and preventing eye sunburns, but not all sunglasses are created equal. Knowing what to look for in sunglasses and how to find out if your current pair are protecting you from UV radiation is critical. Read on to learn how to do just that.
The Damage UV Can Cause
UV radiation can seriously harm your eyes both in the short term and long term. With enough time, UV radiation can increase your risk of developing macular degeneration, which can cause blindness. However, even in the short term, excessive UV radiation can cause a form of sunburn on the eyes that causes a lot of itchiness and discomfort.
Surprisingly, if you already wear a pair of sunglasses that aren't protecting you from UV radiation, you could actually be doing more damage to your eyes than if you went without sunglasses at all. When you go outside and are exposed to bright sunlight, your pupils constrict, which helps to reduce the amount of UV that makes it deep into your eyes. However, if your sunglasses reduce the visible light that makes it to your eyes with dark lenses but don't filter out UV, your pupils will remain dilated, allowing in more UV radiation.
How to Choose a Pair of Sunglasses
When you buy a pair of sunglasses from a store, there are two tell-tale signs that you should look for to determine if they're keeping you safe. Store-bought sunglasses should be marked with a label that either states exactly how much of a percentage of UV light it filters out -- preferably at least 99%, but 100% is better -- or a label that says "UV 400."
UV 400 indicates that the vast majority of the light spectrum is filtered out, including harmful UVA and UVB radiation. Basically, UV 400 is just a different method of measuring how much light is filtered out by lenses.
Another option is to buy your sunglasses directly from your eye doctor's office. Your eye doctor will only stock sunglasses that are tested to protect your eyes, so it's your best bet at a protective pair. They can also offer you a standard pair of glasses with UV-filtering options, too, if you're not interested in tinted lenses.
Check With Your Eye Doctor
If you already have a pair of sunglasses that you don't want to give up but aren't sure if they're protective, give your eye doctor a visit. Your eye doctor can examine your lenses to determine if they're properly filtering out UV radiation or leaving your eyes at risk.
If they determine that your glasses aren't properly filtering out UV radiation, they may be able to have a new pair of lenses made for your frames that will filter UV. This way you can keep the look you already enjoy and get the protection you need, too.
Regularly wearing sunglasses that filter out UV radiation can protect your eyes from serious harm. Talk to your eye doctor about finding a pair of UV-filtering glasses that's right for you.