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Protect Your Peepers: Why Sunglasses Are More Than Just a Fashionable Accessory

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Protect Your Peepers: Why Sunglasses Are More Than Just a Fashionable Accessory

Giorgio Sciortino

It’s summertime, and, as they say, the livin’ is easy. Longer days and warmer temperatures mean more opportunities to soak up that beloved sunshine. As you prepare to pack your beach bag, venture on a hike, or join friends and family for a day of grilling, there is one must-have accessory you shouldn’t leave the house without.

Hint: It’s not sunscreen or bug spray.

Sure, you’re familiar with the dangers of prolonged ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure to your skin, but the lesser-known fact about solar radiation is that it can also harm your eyes.

There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC rays are blocked entirely by the Earth’s atmosphere and don’t present a threat. UVB rays, however, are only partially filtered by the ozone layer. Prolonged exposure to these rays can cause premature aging, as well as sunburns, increasing the risk of developing skin cancer. Finally, UVA rays are not absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere at all and cause significant damage to your vision. According to Gary Heiting, OD, and Senior Editor of AllAboutVision.com, “Extended exposure to the sun's UV rays has been linked to eye damage, including cataracts, macular degeneration, pingueculae, pterygia and photokeratitis that can cause temporary vision loss.” Thankfully, there are several easy and inexpensive steps you can take to protect your eyes this summer.

  • Wear proper sunglasses that block 100% of UV radiation, even in the shade. Cloud cover offers minimal protection from radiation, which can still reflect off of other surfaces. Wraparound styles offer the best protection.

  • Wear broad-brimmed hats while doing yard work or lounging at the beach to provide additional protection for your peripheral vision.

  • Limit your exposure and schedule outings or activities during off-peak hours, especially for children. Sunlight reaches its peak intensity between 11 am and 4 pm during daylight savings time.

  • Schedule an annual eye exam to monitor your eye health.

By following these simple steps, you can reduce your exposure to harmful UV rays and still enjoy the long-awaited summer sun.