Let the Sunshine in, Keep the UV Out

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on July 17, 2023

Sunshine and fresh air are notoriously good for your health and mood. For your eyes, not so much.

Glaringly bright sun—or direct sunlight over a long period of time—can cause damage to the delicate tissues of the eye. Intense or prolonged exposure can increase the risk of a number of eye issues:

The right sunglasses can block up to 100 percent of dangerous UVA and UVB radiation from the sun. Here are 5 things you need to know about getting sunshine without getting UV damage.

  1. UV rays know no season.

Even individuals who wear sunglasses religiously all summer long sometimes forget about them the rest of the year. But UV radiation happens year-round—and the damage they do is cumulative. And remember, clouds won’t block all the damaging rays, so wear lightly tinted shades on days when the sun isn’t at full blaze.

TIP: Keep sunglasses of varying darkness levels or consider photochromic lenses (ones that darken in sunlight) to protect your eyes without hindering vision.

  1. Darker isn’t necessarily better.

Speaking of lightly tinted shades, even light UV-blocking lenses will offer you more protection than super-dark sunglasses that aren’t designed to block UV rays. Those blackout shades might be more comfortable on bright days, but unless they offer 100 percent UV blocking, you won’t get effective protection.

TIP: Shop for sunglasses that are labeled as blocking both UVA and UVB radiation or are marked with “UV 400 protection.”

  1. Lenses should be polarizing.

It’s not just direct sunlight that poses risks to your eyes. The glare from reflective surfaces such as water, roads, windows and snow can be nearly as dangerous. Polarized lenses have a special coating that blocks reflected sunlight to keep eyes more comfortable and prevent temporary “snow blindness.” Not only that, but lens polarization improves color and contrast perception, which helps reduce eye strain.

TIP: Different situations call for different polarized lens colors. Choose gray- or amber-colored glasses for driving to reduce road glare and enhance contrast perception. For sunny days on the water or the beach, copper, blue mirrored and green mirrored lenses are more effective.

  1. Size matters.

Those oversized sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement; they also block more light, dust and wind from getting to your eyes.

TIP: Large lenses and wrap-around sunglasses shouldn’t block your peripheral vision. Choose eyewear with narrow arms and frames that don’t cut across your light of sight.

  1. Don’t spend more than you have to.

When you buy expensive eyewear, you are often simply paying for a brand name. However, you can get as much protection from a $5 pair of sunglasses as a $50 pair, as long as you read the label first. 

TIP: Look for variations of these statements on the packaging: “100% UVA+UVB protection,” “UV 400 protection,” “UV absorption up to 400nm.” Better yet, talk to your eye doctor about the best eye protection for your visual needs, lifestyle and preferences.

Missouri Eye Institute has helped thousands of patients attain freedom from glasses and contact lenses. Contact us at (800) 383-3831 to schedule a thorough eye exam or visit MissouriEye.com to learn more about our services.


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