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Thursday, July 13, 2023

Sunglasses: Does Price Equal Protection?

Posted By: Advancing Care

Your eyes are one of the most vulnerable parts of your body if left unprotected, especially during the summer months when you’re spending time in the sun. Sunglasses can help protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays and other irritants, but it’s important to know that price doesn’t always equal protection.

Here’s what you should know about how UV rays can affect your eyes and what to look for when you’re shopping for shades.

Here’s what you should know about how UV rays can affect your eyes

The Risks of UV Rays

“The sun emits UV rays that not only damage the skin, but can also damage your eyes,” says Ferhina Ali, MD, an ophthalmologist and retina specialist at Westchester Medical Center. “Excess exposure to UV rays can put you at risk for developing certain types of cancers, cataracts and even sunburn on the surface of the eye — which is called photokeratitis.”

In addition, UV rays may cause growths to form on the surface of the eye, which can blur vision and sometimes be irritating enough to warrant surgical removal.

“You can’t see UV rays and they can also reflect off of water and sand — they’re even present on cloudy days,” says Dr. Ali. “And keep in mind the skin of the eyelids, just like the rest of the body, is susceptible to skin cancer, so sunglasses are an added measure against that, on top of sunscreen.”

How to Choose Your Summer Eyewear

Ferhina Ali, MD

The best way to protect your eyes from UV rays and other irritants is to wear sunglasses that provide 100 percent UVA/UVB protection, or equivalent to a wavelength of 400 nanometers. “Wraparound sunglasses are even better, because they can protect you from rays that come from all angles,” says Dr. Ali.

“Polarized, dark-tinted and mirror-coated lenses can all limit glare and brightness to improve vision and safety, but those factors alone do not protect eyes from UV rays,” says Dr. Ali. “In fact, very dark lenses without UV protection can be problematic — in dark environments, pupils enlarge to capture more light, so wearing dark glasses without UV protection can result in more UV ray penetration into the eye.”

Overall, Dr. Ali says that price does not equal protection. “More expensive sunglasses aren’t always better,” she advises. “Focus on getting shades that are large and provide 100 percent UVA/UVB protection and your eyes will thank you.”

What Else Can Damage Your Vision?

If you’re swimming or enjoying water sports this summer, it’s important to keep in mind that your eyes can get irritated from sand and saltwater as well as UV rays. “Sand and salt from ocean water have the potential to scratch the surface of the eye,” says Dr. Ali. “In addition, ocean and lake water can carry parasites, which may result in an infection or ulcer if your eyes are not protected.”

Dr. Ali recommends wearing goggles at all times when swimming, as they can provide complete protection from all irritants, including the chlorine in pool water. “Any kind of eyewear can help protect your eyes from sand as well — so make sure to keep your sunglasses on when you’re at the beach.”

If you get a significant amount of sand or saltwater in your eye, it’s important to visit the emergency room so they can safely irrigate your eyes.

To learn more about how to protect your eyes, schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist at one of WMCHealth’s Advanced Eye Specialty Services locations.