ORLANDO, Fla. — Summer is here and that means more time outdoors and in the sun. But too much sunlight can wreak havoc on your eyes if you don’t protect them. It’s a scary fact, but three point two million people go blind every year due to prolonged UV exposure and whether you’re at the pool, beach, or park. Before you head out, don’t forget to grab your shades!
UV levels from the sun’s rays are three times greater in summer than winter and can damage the eye and lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, ocular melanoma, and other conditions. To stay safe, make sure you pick the right pair of sunglasses. First, look for a sticker that says 100 percent UV protection from all UV light. Polarized lenses reduce glare that bounces off reflective surfaces, but polarization alone doesn’t provide UV protection. And the color of the lens doesn’t necessarily matter.
“A dark pair of glasses well may be your preference doesn’t mean you have great UV protection,” states Dr. George A. Cioffi.
UV absorbing chemicals on sunglasses are colorless, so clear lenses can block light just as well as dark ones. Also, sunglasses don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Drugstore glasses labeled as 100 percent UV blocking are a better choice than designer glasses that don’t offer the protection. And the size of the lens does matter. Larger and oversized lenses provide the most protection.
"They should wrap around a bit,” says Dr. Cioffi.
People with green, hazel, or blue eyes are more sensitive to light and more susceptible to u-v damage. Sunglasses should be worn at all times when outdoors during the day when the UV index is three or above. They should also be worn regardless of cloudiness, as more than 90 percent of rays can penetrate through cloud.