While I was packing the staggering stacks of old newspaper and magazine in my closet yesterday, I came across an article about eye care which after freaking me out with scary cataract photos, recommended the use of sunglasses with UV protection among other basic eye care tips. I’m not sure if you noticed but more and more brands of sunglasses–even brand-less ones which are incredibly cheap–are now touting their products to provide UV protection, too. So should we wear this new UV-fighting trend? Or raise an eyebrow behind our fashionable sunglasses that make us look cool and nothing else?
UV Rays and Your Eyes
A lot of us are well aware of the damages the sun can do to our skin. I have about 5 sunscreens from different brands on my vanity shelf. But a few of us realize soon enough that UV rays can be as damaging to our eyes, too. It can damage the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. It’s also responsible for some types of cataracts and the increased risk of macular degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 65 (source). The skin around our eyes is also very, very thin and fragile, making it highly prone to UV damage. Wrinkles, sagging eyelids, uneven darkening around the eyes–signs of aging that most of us are willing to pay hundreds to get rid of or at the very least, delay.
Yes, Wear Them.
With the rising number of cases of cancers related to UV damage and thankfully, the rising awareness about the evils of UV rays, I can’t think of any reason why we should snub sunglasses that offer UV protection in much the same way we aren’t willing to toss away our well-loved sunscreen products.
Now, it doesn’t mean that just because a pair of sunglasses promise UV protection, it can give you ENOUGH protection. Read on for some tips and myth busters about sun protection for your eyes:
1. Always look for sunglasses that tell you exactly how much UV protection they have. The closer it is to 100%, the better its protection level is. A value of and above 98% is ideal. However, measuring the value can be quite tricky because–if I’m not mistaken–it can vary from one country to another. Sometimes, they use a value of 1-4 or 1-6, 1 being the least value of UV protection. Those that claim “Offers UV Protection” without offering any value are just plain dodgy.
2. Shade doesn’t equate to the level of protection. It doesn’t mean that just because you can hardly see while wearing a pair of very dark sunnies that you’re getting the best protection. You’re just experiencing how it feels like to be partially blind. It still depends on the UV Protection value.
3. Shape and size are also important. Shades that cover the area below your temples or near your ears are most recommended. However, we know that wrap-around sunglasses don’t always equate to “stylish” especially for ladies so I leave it up to you and your level of tolerance to possibly looking like you sprung out from an X-Men movie. Thankfully, big/bumblebee sunglasses are considered fashionable now. As long as you can carry them well and they don’t make you look like a human-sized bee, the bigger the sunglasses, the bigger the protected area is.
4. If cost is your main concern–not to worry. Cost doesn’t always equate to quality in the same way that not all the styles of high end sunglasses can justify the price we pay for them (don’t you think so?). There are even drugstore sunglasses with UV protection that are within the $15-20 range. Well, I can’t assure the styles would match Hollywood fashion but I’m sure you can find a frame shape that will compliment your face.
5. Kids’ eyes eyes are more prone to UV damage than adults. So make sure the kiddies wear protective sunglasses, too!
I found more great tips and facts regarding sun protection for your eyes in the following links:
- Let the Sunshine In, but Not the Harmful Rays (New York Times – Health)
- A Guide to Sunglasses, Glaucoma Research Foundation
- Ultra Violet Radiation and Your Eyes, All About Vision
Are you currently using sunglasses with UV protection, too?
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