When I was 10, I was blind for two weeks. Well, not technically blind, but I couldn’t see. After an eye operation, both eyes were covered for 14 long days. Fortunately, I had family willing to sit and read “girl” books to me!
That experience left me with profound respect and admiration for people who are actually blind and live amazing lives. I also became passionate about protecting one’s vision, especially when I developed cataracts and was forced to stop driving for an extended period.
Cataracts and the subsequent surgery, a miracle unknown to all of the generations of the past, taught me another lesson about the importance of doing all you can to safeguard your vision:
Don’t take your vision and healthy eyes for granted.
Cheap sunglasses, like those found at a big box store or pharmacy, are the fast-food burgers of the sunglass world. They’re not really good for you, but are quick and easy to buy almost everywhere. Whether getting prescription lenses or the best non-prescription sunglasses, you and your eyes deserve the best protection you can find.
Choosing the perfect frame is important, yes. It’s fun to see how different styles and colors change how the world perceives you and how you feel about yourself. Great sunglasses make almost everyone look better.
However, the frame only has one real function – to hold the lenses in front of your eyes. Whether a top designer frame or a mass-produced cheapie, the frame is really all about the lenses.
People generally know how Ultraviolet Light (UV) increases the risk of skin cancer and contributes to excessive wrinkling and premature aging of the skin. We use sunblock.
UV damage doesn’t show up immediately but normally happens gradually over time. UV is just as harmful to your eyes as it is to your skin.
UVA and UVB are year-round threats. UVC radiation is filtered out by the earth's ozone layer so that none reaches the earth's surface.
While we know the UV is beating down a bright, sunny July day, we may not realize that clouds offer almost no protection from UV rays. Winter presents its own UV challenges. Being in the shade offers some protection, but it’s still safest to keep your sunglasses on.
Below are three common eye afflictions linked to UV exposure, but this is far from a complete list. Developing any of these problems will have a severe impact on your life.
My eye doctor commented once that just about everyone will get cataracts if they live long enough. UVB rays hasten the deterioration of the lens, causing increased cloudiness and floaters. As this condition progresses, reading, watching TV, and other vision-dependent activities become more difficult. Driving at night or in the rain becomes increasingly difficult. Without treatment, cataracts lead to blindness.
The eyes age just as the rest of the body does. The macula is a converter deep in the eye, changing light and images into nerve signals the brain interprets. Healthy eyes deliver clear, sharp images. UV light accelerates normal aging, causing the central vision to become increasingly blurred.
Sunburn is a painful reminder of the sheer power of sunlight. Your cornea can also get sunburned, causing eyeball tissue to become inflamed. UV damage can occur in only a few hours.
Photokeratitis can happen any time of the year, particularly if sunlight is being reflected by water, sand, or snow. In fact, up to a startling 80% of UV rays can be reflected, almost doubling the danger to unprotected eyes.
Not all sunglasses offer 100% UV protection – this is a must-have. Some sunglasses only substantially less UV protection.
For maximum protection, look for UV 400. Sunglasses with this rating offer superior UV protection; the lens will block all damaging UV wavelengths up to 400 nanometers.
A light-colored amber, gray or other-colored lens can provide 100% UV protection, but that’s not a given. On the other hand, a super-dark lens may not offer the UV protection you’re looking for. Check the labels.
You can find attractive sunglasses with excellent UV protection without breaking the bank, sometimes for the price of a restaurant meal. Prescription sunglasses cost more.
If you love your current sunglasses, but you don’t know their UV rating, your local eyewear professional will usually be able to check your sunglasses and let you know how much protection they offer.
Let us know what kind of sunglasses you use to protect your eyes!