We’re well into summer now, and you and your family probably have a lot of activities planned for the outdoors. As you protect your skin with sunblock though, don’t forget to protect your eyes as well with sunglasses.
You know that your skin can get damaged if it’s exposed to too much sun without protection. Your eyes are also susceptible to damage in similar ways. UV-A rays can reach all the way to the retina, potentially leading to macular degeneration (loss of central vision). UV-B rays, on the other hand, affect the cornea and lens. They can cause corneal sunburns and increase the risk of developing cataracts.
The earliest sunglasses were made by the Inuit people to protect against glare from the snow. Vastly different from the sunglasses that we have today, their sunglasses were flattened walrus ivory with slits across the front. They worked well enough, utilizing the same principle as modern polarized lenses.
Later on, non-polarized sunglasses became popular thanks to film stars, and many different styles have become popular through the decades, from Audrey Hepburn’s cat-eye frames to Jackie Kennedy’s big “bug-eyed” frames. Polarized lenses were developed in the mid-1930s and now allow us to protect our eyes in our own style. It might be a perk that sunglasses make you look cool, but the priority should be that they do an effective job of protecting your eyes from the sun.
When looking for new sunglasses, you should first look at UV protection. Pay attention to the label and look for pairs that block at least 99% of UV rays. Size is also important. You might be tempted to choose a pair based solely on the style, but try to opt for wider frames, which allow more coverage and protection. Frames that sit closer to the eyes provide even further coverage. Finally, consider the color of the lenses: different colors offer different benefits. Yellow and amber lenses filter out blue light, making them great for sports. Rose and purple lenses increase contrast against blue and green backgrounds, making them great for hunting and water skiing. Regardless of color, polarized lenses provide the best glare reduction.
If you’re having trouble finding a pair, consult with your optometrist or other vision care provider. The important thing is to keep your eyes protected.