• Carina Lee

Guide to Sunglasses

Updated: Oct 19

Dr. Carina Lee, June 1, 2022

Although sunglasses are in style, why are they so crucial?


The majority of people are aware of the damaging impact that UV radiation may have on skin. Many people do not realize that UV radiation also poses a threat to our eyes' health and vision.


  • Over time, unprotected UV radiation exposure can seriously harm eyes.

  • Approximately 80% of a person's lifetime exposure to UV radiation occurs before the age of 18, according to the World Health Organization!

  • Long-term UV exposure can lead to ocular conditions that compromise vision, like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Prolonged UV exposure can cause:

  • Eye irritation in the eye

  • Difficulty seeing

  • Wrinkles around the eye

  • Red or swollen eyes

  • Sunburn on the eyelids

  • Sunburn of the eye

  • Cancer on or around the eye

Types of UV light


There are three different forms of UV radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC.


UVA rays, which are not absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, represent the biggest danger to the health of our eyes.


UVB rays are somewhat absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, yet they are still a major threat to human eye health. Excessive UVB exposure can cause sunburns on the skin and eyes, as well as other ocular illnesses.


Since UVA and UVB radiation can harm our eyes, it is imperative that we protect ourselves from these harmful rays.


UVC rays do not pose a threat to the health of our eyes because the Earth's atmosphere completely absorbs them.


Why is UV exposure harmful?


The condition photokeratitis, commonly referred to as a "sunburn of the eye," can be brought on by a day at the beach or any momentary overexposure to UVB radiation. This type of sunburn can cause temporary but irritating symptoms like red eyes, light sensitivity, a feeling of something in the eye, and copious tears. Apart from the momentary agony and discomfort, photokeratitis usually does not cause long-term damage to the eyes.


However, prolonged exposure to UV radiation can cause significant eye disorders including cataracts and macular degeneration, which can cause partial or total blindness.


The eye actually absorbs UVA and UVB rays, posing a serious threat to ocular health.


Is UV exposure only a threat on sunny days?


Eye professionals disagree with the common belief that sunglasses are only necessary in bright days.


Many surfaces, including snow, water, sand, and even buildings, reflect UV radiation! Contrary to popular belief, snow actually reflects up to 94 percent of UVB rays whereas water only reflects up to 8 percent. Since 50% of the UV radiation we are exposed to comes from reflection, it is just as dangerous as direct UV exposure. A lot of individuals don't realize that sunglasses are important even when it's cloudy. According to study, the UV index is exactly as high on days with thick clouds as it is on clear days!


However, it is safe to venture outside without sunglasses when it is raining, foggy, or there are low clouds present because UV radiation is significantly diminished under those circumstances.

Between 2 and 4 PM, when 39.8% of Americans are outside, UV exposure is at its peak. During certain times of the day, be sure to wear UVA and UVB-protecting sunglasses!


The ultimate guide to shopping for sunglasses


Our eyes are shielded by sunglasses from glare, blue light, and damaging UV rays. Sunglasses are necessary for a variety of activities, including driving, playing sports, sitting on the beach, and going outside.


To ensure maximum protection, before purchasing a new pair of sunglasses, look for the following key elements:

  • 100% UVA and UVB protection

  • 75 to 90% visible light protection

  • Distortion and imperfection free

It is strongly advised to get sunglasses with polycarbonate or Trivex lenses if your employment requires outdoor work that could be detrimental to your eyes or if you play a lot of sports. Due to their comfort, light weight, and impact resistance, these lenses offer a higher level of protection.


The quality of protection is typically unaffected by the color and tint density of the lens. However, not all sunglasses completely block UV rays. Ask your eye doctor if you are unsure of the level of UV protection your sunglasses offer; they may have specialized equipment that can measure the UV filter on your lenses.


Remember that you will gain more protection if the frame is larger. The delicate skin surrounding your eyes will also be protected by larger lenses or a tighter, wrap-around frame.

Regular outdoor activity can further limit UV exposure by up to 50% by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, especially on sunny days.


Sunglasses come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and hues; in addition to being practical, they were also created to complement your fashion sense.


Already wear corrective lenses full time? No problem!


If you constantly wear glasses, you might be wondering what you can do since adding another pair of sunglasses is not an option.


Don't worry; there are other solutions available to guarantee that you too have adequate coverage.


Sunglasses with prescription lenses have the protection you need while also adjusting your vision.


You can put on larger-framed sunglasses over your prescription glasses.


For simple, rapid coverage, flip-up and clip-on sunglasses attach to the top of the frame.


In the presence of sunshine, photochromic sunglasses or polarized lenses automatically transition from clear to darkened lenses.


Set a good example for your children and encourage them to apply their sunscreen because UV radiation exposure can actually have adverse effects.

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