Sunglasses are an absolutely essential accessory for protecting your eyes and skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. With the thinning of the Earth’s protective ozone layer, UV exposure at ground level has increased significantly over recent decades, making high-quality sunglasses more important than ever for long-term eye and skin health.
How Sunglasses Shield Against UV Rays
Sunglasses protect your vulnerable eyes by blocking out 99-100% of both UVA and UVB ultraviolet rays. UVA rays make up 95% of the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface every day. These long wavelength rays easily penetrate deep into the skin and are strongly associated with premature skin aging, wrinkling, and age spots.
UVB rays account for the remaining 5% of UV radiation found at ground level. UVB rays have slightly shorter wavelengths that may still penetrate the outer layers of skin and are the primary cause of sunburns and related skin damage. Both types of UV rays have been clearly linked to an increased risk of certain types of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other serious eye diseases that can cause vision impairment and blindness.
Benefits of Wearing Sunglasses
Making a habit of wearing proper, UV-filtering sunglasses whenever you are outdoors in conditions of bright sunlight provides many benefits for the long-term health of your eyes and vision. Sunglasses cut down on painful squinting in bright sunny conditions by allowing your pupils to remain more dilated instead of contracting to pinpoints that let in less light. This relaxed eye positioning when wearing sunglasses reduces straining of the eye muscles that control pupil size.x
Effectively limiting your eyes’ exposure to the sun’s UV rays over a lifetime of regular wear means quality sunglasses also help prevent the eventual development of certain types of cataracts as well as macular degeneration. Sunglasses also reduce your risk of incurring photokeratitis, which is essentially a severe sunburn of the cornea surface of the eye that can occur with prolonged unprotected sun exposure.
What to Look for in Quality UV-Blocking Sunglasses
When shopping for sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV damage, be sure to look for a clearly printed tag or label on the glasses that specifically states they block 99-100% of UV radiation. Larger framed styles of sunglasses also provide more coverage and protection than thin, wire-rimmed frames. Styles with wraparound lenses that curve around the temple further help block UV rays from being able to enter at the sides.
Smoke-tinted gray, brown, and amber lens colors are ideal for absorbing bright sunlight, reducing glare, and offering the best eye comfort in extended wear. Green and rose-tinted lens shades are also good for wearing when driving or doing detail work because they allow for sharper color distinction and depth perception on the road or at a task.
Those wanting the most complete sun protection may consider polarized sunglasses, which further cut down on blinding glare from reflective surfaces. While designer sunglasses are certainly stylish and fashionable, the people at Olympic Eyewear say that less expensive brands and generics marked 100% UV protection also fully block ultraviolet rays and protect eyes. The most important factor is the quality of the lenses and their UV-filtering capabilities, not necessarily the cost or brand name attached.
Caring for Your Sunglasses: Ensuring Longevity and UV Protection
While high-quality sunglasses offer essential protection against harmful UV rays, it’s equally important to care for and maintain them to ensure their longevity and continued effectiveness in shielding your eyes. Proper maintenance not only extends the life of your sunglasses but also ensures they continue to provide the highest level of UV protection. Here are some valuable tips on how to care for and maintain your sunglasses:
1. Keep Them Clean
Regularly clean your sunglasses to remove dirt, dust, and smudges. Use a microfiber cleaning cloth or a special lens cleaning solution for best results. Avoid using paper towels or clothing, as they can scratch the lenses.
2. Use a Protective Case
When not in use, always store your sunglasses in a protective case. This prevents them from getting scratched, bent, or damaged in your bag or pocket. Many sunglasses come with a protective case when you purchase them.
3. Handle with Care
Handle your sunglasses gently and avoid putting pressure on the frames or lenses. Always use both hands to take them on and off your face to prevent stretching the frames.
4. Avoid Extreme Temperatures
High temperatures can cause the frames to warp or become misshapen. Avoid leaving your sunglasses in a hot car or exposing them to excessive heat for extended periods.
5. Check for Loose Screws
Over time, the screws that hold the frames together may become loose. Periodically inspect your sunglasses for any loose screws and tighten them if necessary using a small eyeglass repair kit.
6. Rinse with Lukewarm Water
If your sunglasses are exposed to saltwater or chlorinated pool water, rinse them with lukewarm tap water afterward. This helps remove any residue that could affect the lenses or frames.
7. Avoid Harsh Chemicals
Steer clear of harsh chemicals, such as acetone or ammonia-based cleaning products, which can damage the coatings on your sunglasses. Stick to specialized lens cleaning solutions.
8. Regular Maintenance
Make it a habit to inspect your sunglasses regularly for any signs of wear or damage. Look for scratches, loose hinges, or bent frames. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.
By following these care and maintenance tips, you can extend the life of your sunglasses and ensure they continue to provide optimal UV protection. Remember that well-maintained sunglasses not only protect your eyes but also enhance your overall outdoor experience.
Wearing high quality sunglasses whenever you venture outdoors on sunny days provides critical protection for your eyes against harmful UV radiation from the sun. Look for sunglasses that specifically indicate they block 99-100% of intense UVA and UVB rays for guaranteed protection. With regular use of proper protective sunglasses, you can comfortably enjoy all types of outdoor activities year-round and maintain lasting eye health and clear vision well into the future.