Disclosure: I received a complimentary Sun Safe Swag Bag as a thank you for participating in a healthy eyes briefing provided by The Vision Council. All opinions are strictly my own. Statistics and facts are shared with permission.
Let’s face it, we don’t always think about protecting our eyes. We wear sunglasses to keep the sun out of them but do we really give much thought to what else our sunglasses are protecting us from? Not all sunglasses are created equal. Do you protect your eyes from UVA/UVB rays with sunglasses? Do you even know, for sure, if you are? If not, you really, REALLY should! Thanks to a briefing with Dr. Dora Adamopoulas, OD, I have some facts and statistics for you to prove my point.
First, I recently learned that 1 in 4 Americans rarely, if ever, wear sunglasses. 2 in 3 don’t protect their eyes on cloudy/rainy days and 3 in 10 don’t protect their eyes during the winter. What many people don’t realize is that our eyes are still in danger from UVA/UVB rays even on cloudy, rainy and wintry days. And even when adults are wearing sunglasses with (or without) UVA/UVB protection, more than 1/3 of kids eyes are going unprotected!
Here’s what not NOT protecting your eyes from UVA and UVB rays can cause:
- Photokeratitis – Sunburn of the eye – yes your eyes can get sunburned!
- Pterygium – sometimes called “surfer’s eye,” is an abnormal but usually benign growth on the surface of the
eye or eyelid
- Cataracts – you can get these at ANY age!
- Age-related Macular Degeneration – not protecting your eyes can speed this degeneration up
- Cancer of the eye, eyelid and surrounding skin.
It is estimated that nearly seven in 10 adults (65 percent) are unaware of the link between UV exposure and serious eye diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
You probably didn’t think much about the fact that your actual eyes can get sunburned. I know I never really had. Have you ever had red, watery eyes after camping, swimming or other outdoor activities? If so, they were probably sunburned. Wearing sunglasses that have UVA/UVB protection would have prevented that. But not all sunglasses have it. One common myth is that the darker the lens, the better protection you get. That’s not true. A clear lens can have added UVA/UVB protection and your favorite black lenses may not. We learned in the webinar that if sunglasses do not have a sticker on them when you buy them, specifically stating UVA/UVB protection, then most likely do not have it. So you need to look for that on them. And make sure it says both so you know you’re covered from both types of UV rays. Better safe than sorry, right?
We learned that many people choose their shades based on style. I know I usually do, as well as price. I tend to find ones in a price range I can afford and then go for the snazziest looking pair that looks and feels good on my face. I now know to double check for that sticker. And what I’ve found is that there are plenty of options in my price range that look good. So they’re affordable and offer the protection I need.
Something else to consider is that if you wear glasses, you can also get a pair or prescription sunglasses that have UVA/UVB protection so you can still see what you’re doing while also protecting your eyes. I wear glasses and sometimes contacts so I need both prescription sunglasses and regular sunglasses for days I’m wearing my contacts. There are a couple of brands for contacts that are developing contacts that also offer UVA/UVB protection. That is something that you may also want to ask your eye Dr. about.
How Does UV Radiation Impact the Eye?
UV radiation is a known culprit for painful sunburns and melanoma, yet few adults associate it with serious vision problems, both temporary and long-term. In fact, nearly 50% of Americans are more concerned with the potential for skin cancer, cancer of the eye or eyelid, or wrinkles than the potential vision loss implications of unprotected UV exposure. With UV damage being cumulative, may lead to serious medical issues and vision impairment.
Please download this one page pdf with more facts and statistics on the importance of protecting your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays. It’s a great “eye opener”!
What about our kids? Do they really need sunglasses?
Yup! Kids, especially, need sunglasses to prevent damage! A kids eyes are more vulnerable to UV than an adult.Their eyes have larger pupils and clearer lenses so they really absorb it which causes damage to their eye health. So we need to be putting sunglasses on our children from a really young age. There are several styles that are comfortable for kids. For babies, I like the ones with the adjustable strap that goes all the way around the head so they are less likely to tug them off. My kids love wearing sunglasses. But we’ve put them on them since they were infants and they see me and Clay wearing them. So I think it is sort of “monkey see, monkey do” type of thing. Kids love to mimic parents.
FACT: Children receive 3X the annual adult dose of UV and eyes are at risk with larger pupils and clearer lenses setting the stage for serious vision damage later in life.
Some tips for parents when choosing their child’s sunglasses:
- Look for a UVA/UVB sticker or label when purchasing quality sunglasses.
- Make your purchase from a reputable retailer. Inexpensive party favors or holiday-themed shades are not
- Check out sunglasses with large frames or adjustable straps (e.g., Velcro or elastic) which are more likely to
stay in place.
- Consider shades without hinges so that children can put on their own sunglasses without pinching their
- Increase protection with wraparound sunglasses that can protect the side of the eyes and eyelids.
- Purchase plastic sunglasses for children who are prone to losing or breaking them; they’re inexpensive and
OK, so that was a lot of information. I have a ton more but what I really want you to take away from this post is that you really do need to be protecting your eyes and your kids eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Make sure your sunglasses have that protection. If they don’t toss them out. They’re not doing you any good at all!
For more information visit www.thevisioncouncil.org
We received the nicest Sun Safe Swag Bag as a thank you for participating. I just want to give a little shout out to eh wonderful sponsors of the swag bag: (Thank you!)
- The Vision Council
- ONE by Optic Nerve
For a little fun, share your #SunglassSelfie with them on Facebook or Twitter @OpticalIndustry
Don’t forget to use the #NationalSunglassesDay hashtag in your tweets and Facebook posts on June 27!