National Sunglasses Day is Here - June 27th!
Well, here we are again, it's National Sunglasses Day tomorrow (6-27) and, as I'm writing this, the sun looks like it'll be shining good. Of course, given the danger of the sun to our eyes, we should all be wearing sunglasses when outside, sunny or not. Just like getting burned by the sun when it's cloudy, those harmful sun rays pay little attention to the weather and will nail you and your eyes just about anytime outside of early morning, evening and night. So...make sure your sunglasses are on-hand and in good working order. Yet any old pair of sunglasses won't necessarily protect you as needed. You need to ensure you have 100% UVA and HEV protection sunglasses. Wraparound styles work best as less sunlight can leak in from the sides. Fortunately, Eyes on Broadway carries a wide selection of sunglass frames and lenses that can also be fit with your eye prescription (if needed).
A few weeks back we did a blog article here titled 5 Tips for Protecting Your Eyes This Summer. By no accident, tip #1 was all about the importance of wearing of proper sunglasses. Let's go a little deeper on why, centering on just how bad the various rays from the sun are for your eyes and why wearing good eye protection is so darn critical.
UVA and HEV Rays are Not Your Friend
Back in the "old days," a sun-free complexion was a sign of affluence, along with having a few extra pounds. The sun-free look meant you didn't have to work outside (or at all) and being heavier meant you had food-a-plenty. The "skinny, tanned look" said volumes. Of course, over time, society changed and the "skinny, tanned look" became more desirable, and finally en vogue. Nowadays a bit of color is still sought after by most, but nowhere near what was considered cool in the 80's. Tanning beds are way down in popularity as is getting a lot of sun when outside. Skin cancer has touched us or someone we know and, well, we've come to realize just how dangerous un-checked sun rays are for our skin. Yet our eyes have not gotten nearly as much attention, but they are firmly at risk. We are firmly in the age of sun-protection and National Sunglasses Day helps to highlight this important, eye-centric element.
Your eyes need protection from harmful solar radiation and the sunglasses your wear need to have proper blocking/absorbing power. The most well-known, harmful sun rays are UV / UVA, which stand for ultraviolet. A decent pair of sunglasses will boast 100% protection from UV or UVA rays. Yet your sunglasses shouldn't stop there. Rather, a good pair of sunglasses will also serve to absorb most HEV rays, a high-energy, visible blue light form that penetrates deeply into the eye and can cause retinal damage.
A European study published in the October 2008 issue of Ophthalmology talks in detail about the dangers of HEV radiation to the eyes. The study also makes a connection to how much greater eye damage from HEV rays can be when coupled with low blood plasma levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants (fact courtesy of: allaboutvision.com).
Outdoor Risk Factors
When you're indoors, your eyes are generally safe from the sun. That said, sun can get in through windows, skylights and reflections. Wear sunglasses as needed. Outdoors, on the other hand, is the realm of the sun and this is where you need protection the most. Here are some great, outdoor risk factors as identified by All About Vision (allaboutvision.com). Pay close attention to what may or may not apply to you and where you live and recreate:
Risks of eye damage from UV and HEV exposure change from day to day and depend on a number of factors, including:
As noted above, the existence of clouds doesn't have much affect on UV levels. Overcast or hazy days still bring major UV exposure opportunities because, since UV light is invisible radiation, and not visible light, it can penetrate clouds easily.
Long story short? Wear proper-fitting sunglasses that feature 100% protection from both UV / UVA and HEV rays. Wraparound styles are best. Pay attention to the factors that can increase/decrease exposure levels and adjust your sunglass wearing accordingly. Header Image Courtesy: EyesOnBroadway.com