Do I Really Need To Wear Sunglasses?

    The sun's come out and it's time to hit the pool! We lather on the SPF with sunscreen and keep a watchful eye on all the unique moles dotting our body. But what about our eyes? And what about those times when you're not tanning on a floaty or building sandcastles?

    While most of us are aware of the potential dangers UV rays can pose to our skin, we often overlook the harmful effects that they can have on our eyes. In a 2014 study by the U.S. National Eye Institute, it was found that UV radiation can damage proteins in the eye's lens. This protein damage can eventually lead to an elevated risk for cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. It doesn't end there. The World Health Organization states that sun exposure can be linked to a form of short-term blindness called photokeratitis (also known as "welder's burn"), and eye cancer.

The eye occupies less than 2 per cent of the whole body surface area, but it represents the sole organ system to allow the penetration of visible light deep into the human body.

Source : World Health Organization

    It may be more commonplace for us to remember to protect our eyes during those hot, sunny summer months. But what about winter, or a cloudy day? Are our eyes still at risk when the we don't feel the need to squint and turn on the A/C?

    Short answer, yes.

    Anytime there is you are outside during the day, UV rays are reaching you. While direct light accounts for most of the exposure, reflected sunlight can damage your eyes as well! In fact, snow can reflect up to 80% of incident UV radiation. Basically, the risk for eye damage due to UV light gets compounded anytime you're around water, snow, or glancing over a care windshield.

    And if you thought moving to the grey, rainy city of Seattle would be your saving grace, think again. While clouds and shade can reduce UV exposure to some degree, your eyes will still be exposed to reflected light. Also, we tend to use less UV protection on a cloudy day and feel like we can stay aside for a greater amount of time - just prolonging the time of exposure.

    So what's the solution? Can we all just eat carrots and keep our 20/20 vision forever?

    While getting some beta-carotene and lutein in you definitely won't hurt, the best way to protect your eyes is to pay attention to the UV index and wear sunglasses! Make sure you choose sunglasses that protect your eyes from 99–100% of UVA and UVB rays. If you're unsure about the level of UV protection your sunglasses provide, take them to your eye doctor or optician for an evaluation.

    Everyone enjoys a sunny day. But be safe and make sure you have the right sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays.

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