Whether you are headed to the beach, to the ski slopes or down the block to the grocery store, don't forget your sunglasses.
In addition to causing sunburns, wrinkles and skin cancer, too much sunlight can also damage your eyes. The damage comes from two types of ultraviolet (UV) light—UVA and UVB.
Frequent exposure to these UV rays can cause eye problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Optometric Association (AOA).
You can protect your eyes from UV damage by wearing sunglasses that block UV light, says the AAO.
The important part of choosing sunglasses is reading the label. The sunglasses you choose should block 99 to 100 percent of UV rays. Lenses that provide UV absorption up to 400nm are the same as lenses that block 100 percent of UV light. If you are outside often, it is important to get sunglasses that absorb or block all UVA and UVB, according to the AAO.
It doesn't matter if the lenses are glass or plastic, since it is how the lenses are made that provides the UV protection. In addition, how dark the lenses are or the color of the lenses has nothing to do with the lenses' ability to block UV light, says the AAO.
Other protective options for sunglasses include:
People who wear contacts should also wear sunglasses since UV-absorbing contacts may not protect against eye damage.
Take extra care
Certain conditions and medications can increase your risk of eye damage from UV light. The AAO advises that you take extra precautions if you:
It is important to protect your eyes from the sun year-round. UV rays are lowest in winter but can still cause damage, warns the AAO. Be especially careful near snow, as the reflected light is very intense and can burn the cornea.
Damage from the sun begins in childhood, so encourage your children to wear sunglasses whenever they go outdoors.