The majority of Americans are familiar with the hazards of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation to your skin, (particularly sunburn and skin cancer) and the importance of applying sunscreen and avoiding direct contact with the sun during outdoor activities. But did you know that ultraviolet rays and other harmful types of radiation from the sun also pose a risk to your eyes?
If you tend to leave the house without sunglasses, reconsider. Frequent exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation has been shown to cause damage to the eye.
Risks of UV Eye Exposure
Excessive short term exposure to UV can cause a ''sunburn on the eye'', leading to pain, blurry vision or even temporary blindness. Long-term UV exposure can cause more serious eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, all of which can be a threat to vision. Just like the real sun, tanning beds present a serious threat of overexposure to UV.
How to Choose Protective Sunglasses
For proper UV defense, sunglasses should completely block all UV rays. Stick with shades that specify they are ''UV 400'', which means that they block both UVA and UVB rays from entering your eyes (400 refers to the wavelength of light in nanometers).
You also want to choose sunglasses with full eye coverage. Sunglasses with side protection can prevent dangerous UV rays from entering from the backside of the sunglasses.
You don't have to spend a lot of money on your sunglasses to have proper UV coverage, but you should not make a purchase unless you are certain the sunglasses give full UV defense. More and more manufacturers recognize the importance of offering proper UV defense. The great news is that in addition to defending your eyes from the harmful sunlight, trendy sunglasses are all the rage, so find something you love and have fun in the sun!