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UV radiation from the sun is damaging to more than just your skin, but you can’t exactly apply sunscreen to your eyeballs—or can you? While you can’t protect your eyes with lotions or creams in the same way that you can protect your skin with such products, there is one simple product you can use every day to prevent damage to your eyes. It’s simple, but few of us do it as often as we should.

What is it? Simply wear sunglasses! However, not all sunglasses are created equal. Here is a quick guide on how and why sunglasses protect your eyes and how to choose the best pair for your needs.

SUN DAMAGE AND THE EYES

Just as ultraviolet radiation damages the skin, it also damages the eyes. UV radiation is a known contributor in the development of certain eye diseases, including cataracts, and growing evidence suggests it may play a part in the development of macular degeneration. Overtime, these conditions may cause blindness.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST PAIR OF SUNGLASSES

The most important factor in choosing sunglasses is the level of UV protection offered. Be sure you select sunglasses that offer 99 to 100 percent UV protection, and that they include protection from both UVA and UVB radiation. In addition to selecting sunglasses labeled with such UV protection, also look for larger lenses or wrap-around style lenses, and close fitting sunglasses, which all increase the amount of protection. The larger your lenses are, and the closer the sunglasses fit, the fewer damaging rays will be able to enter the eye.

Once you’ve found a selection of sunglasses with the proper UV protection, you can start to have fun with style. There are a number of additional available features to consider when selecting sunglasses. Some of these provide particular types of benefits while others are more stylistic. When selecting sunglasses, consider lens options such as:

  • Photochromic—lenses that darken or lighten based on the amount of light exposure
  • Single gradient—lenses that are darker at the top and lighter towards the bottom; useful to reduce glare and ideal for driving
  • Double gradient—darker at top and bottom but lighter in the center; ideal for water or winter sports
  • Polarized—to reduce reflected glare; ideal for snow or water sports and driving
  • Blue-blocking—ideal for water or snow sports or hazy weather; total blue-blocking lenses are amber in color and should not be used for driving
  • Mirror-coated—lenses to reduce visible light

In addition to the above added details, if you participate in sports or potentially hazardous activities, look for sunglasses with polycarbonate lenses, which offer protection against impacts.

SUNGLASSES TO AVOID

It is important to note that the darkness of your lenses has nothing to do with how well they protect your eyes from UV radiation. Color also has nothing to do with protective ability. Regardless of the color or darkness of the lenses, avoid any sunglasses that do not include details about their level of UV protection.

If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, talk with your Silverstein Eye Centers optician when selecting lenses. In the United States, UV protection is standard in most prescription eyeglass lenses, but your optician will be able to guide you to the best lens choices for your activities and vision needs. Some contacts also have build in UV protection, but to maximize the effects, you should still wear sunglasses with your contacts.

To learn more about the risks of UV damage to your eyes, to schedule an eye examination, or to update your sunglasses, contact Silverstein Eye Centers today by calling us at 816-595-3988.

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