When Should I Wear Sunglasses?

Maybe you don’t need to wear your “Sunglasses at Night,” in the words of 80s one-hit wonder Corey Hart, but nighttime is just about the only time your eyes don’t need protection from the sun.

Harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause skin damage, premature wrinkles and exposure to free radicals. A free radical is an unstable molecule that has lost an electron and reacts with a neighboring molecule to become whole again. These reactive atoms are located throughout the human body and can destroy healthy cells. Over time, free radical damage can lead to chronic conditions like cataracts and glaucoma.

Fortunately, protecting your eyes from damaging sun exposure is simple and inexpensive. It does, however, require discipline and good habits. Sunglasses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection will shield your eyes from ultraviolet radiation and help preserve your vision for years to come. The common mistake that most people make is to allow the weather to influence their decision to say “yes” or “no” to their shades.

Here are some little-known facts about the importance of proper eye protection:

1. We all need to wear sunglasses, regardless of age. The age group most at risk for eye damage is children since few of them wear sunglasses, and sun damage is cumulative.

2. Our eyes are just as vulnerable to UV rays on cloudy days as on sunny days. UV rays can penetrate through clouds.

3. Larger lenses offer greater eye protection than smaller ones.

4. Not all sunglasses offer 100% UVA and UVB protection. Read labels carefully before purchasing.

5. For maximum eye protection, select sunglasses that have wrap-around lenses.

6. Damaging UV rays can reflect off snow and water, so wear sunglasses during the wintertime and when at the beach or on a boat.

7. If you are unsure about what sunglasses to purchase, talk to your eye doctor. Your eye doctor can give you advice on the sunglasses that will offer the best eye protection. You can purchase prescription or non-prescription sunglasses at your next comprehensive eye exam.

When in doubt, sport those shades. A quality pair of sunglasses will help prevent chronic eye conditions and keep your vision clear. Establish good habits by keeping a pair of sunglasses in your car, office and home and wear them daily.

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