Your time outside can quickly lead to an increased risk of exposure to dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause a sun spot on the white of the eye called a pinguecula. These may look yellow in appearance and cause irritation over time. Moreover, long-term exposure to harmful UV rays can cause the formation of cataracts, leading to blurred vision and can ultimately require cataract surgery to correct.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t doing enough to protect their eyes from the sun, even if they are aware of the risks. According to The Vision Council, 75 percent of Americans are concerned about UV eye exposure, but only 31 percent wear sunglasses every time they go outside. You’re probably spending a fair amount of time protecting skin by applying sunscreen, so why not make sure that you’re doing the same for your eyes?
Consider these tips to find the right pair of sunglasses this summer:
• Only about half of people who wear sunglasses say they check the UV rating before buying a pair, according to a national Sun Safety Survey conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Make sure your sunglasses provide 100 percent UV protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Look for a sticker or a label on sunglass lenses that indicates 100 percent UV protection.
• Consider polarized lenses, which reduce or eliminate glare and reflected sunlight off the surface of water.
• It’s especially important that kids and teens wear sunglasses from an early age. By the time you turn 18, you have received 75-80 percent of your lifetime UV exposure, according to the World Health Organization.
• No matter your age, go for big frames. Larger frames and wrap-around styles provide extra UV protection by blocking rays that come in from the side.
• Think about lens color. Great for aesthetic reasons, different lens colors can help serve different purposes. You may want to go with gray lenses for true color perception or brown/amber lenses if you want to see more visible contrasts.
• Consider your lifestyle before selecting a pair. If you’re active in sports, your optometrist can help you select sunglasses and lenses that can protect your eyes and help optimize your performance.
Quality sunglasses that provide maximum UV protection can still be fashionable. You can explore and purchase a variety of brands and styles on eyeconic.com, where you can also connect to a local eye doctor through VSP Vision Care’s network of optometrists. Eyeconic is the only online retailer that allows you to shop for glasses, sunglasses, and contacts using your vision benefits.
Give your eyes the treatment they deserve. Be sure your daily sun-wear routine goes beyond a great SPF to include eye protection.