Everybody knows the sun’s rays are damaging to skin – but did you know they can harm your eyes, too? In fact, long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause cataracts and macular degeneration later in life. One of the best ways to protect your eyes is by wearing sunglasses with broad-spectrum UV protection.
About light waves
Ultraviolet light waves are not visible to the human eye. Their wavelength is shorter than blue light and as such, they have more energy. Let’s explore this a little more.
When we look at light, we have what is called the visible spectrum. You may remember learning the acronym “ROYGBIV” in grade school. That stands for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. If we were to extend the acronym to express the energy spectrum to the right of ‘violet,’ we get “ROYGBIV-UVXGAMMA.” The energies to the right of the hyphen are UV rays, X-rays and gamma rays. UV rays, X-rays and gamma rays all represent energies higher than that of the visible spectrum.
We all know it’s not advisable to be exposed to too much X-ray energy. Similarly, we want to protect our eyes against too much UV-ray energy, as it can be nearly as harmful as X-rays if we are exposed to them for long periods of time. It’s important we protect our eyes from UV rays, which are created by our warming sun.
Although UV rays are not as potent as X-rays or gamma rays, we are exposed to UV rays in daily life often for hours at a time. Put in this context, you can see why wearing full-spectrum sunglasses is imperative to keeping your eyes healthy.
When you must be outside, sunglasses are your best defense
Sunglasses can have prescription lenses with your eyeglass correction in them, or they can be just as protective with no corrective prescription in the lenses. Even patients who have undergone some of the most popular eye surgeries such as LASIK and cataract extraction can benefit from wearing sunglasses.
Pay special attention to driving
Make sure to wear sunglasses during daytime driving to help protect your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. If you tend to forget them at home, it makes good sense to place them in your car when not using them. That way, you will have them anytime you travel somewhere in your car.
Patients who live in areas of the country with a high number of sunny days can benefit from wearing sunglasses year-round. Patients who live in areas with sunny seasons can wear their sunglasses seasonally. It is important to remember, however, that even in cold weather, sunny days expose the eyes to significant levels of UV light.
Your eyelids need protection too
Sunglasses not only protect the eyes, but they also provide added protection to the eyelids. The best protection for the skin on the eyelids is a high SPF (50 or higher) sunscreen.
Choose the right sunglasses for the best protection
Buy quality sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV rays. Getting into the habit of wearing sunglasses can take practice, but once you get into the habit, the protective benefits can be profound.
The specialists at Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Centerare happy to help you pick out a high-quality pair of sunglasses that will give you the protection you need. Contact uswith any questions or schedule a consultationat(800) 996-7000.