Eyes Can Get Sunburned Too!

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The Dangers of Wearing Cheap Sunglasses  
by VERGE Staff | Lifestyle and Health | Monday, July 8, 2013

When shopping for sunglasses, there’s a chance you may be choosing fashion, style and price at the expense of your health. Although this may be purely unintentional, optometrists advise that we shop for shades with caution, as there are dangers associated with wearing cheap or fake designer sunglasses.

We're all aware of the life-threatening effects of skin cancer that sun damage can cause regardless of our skin color, as well as the advanced ageing process it has on the skin. But often the need to protect our eyes is overlooked and sunglasses are simply seen as a fashion accessory and not beneficial to our health. But wearing cheap or fake designer sunglasses provides a lack of proper protection from harmful UV rays that could cause serious eye problems and possibly even blindness.

Extended exposure to the sun's UV rays has been linked to various kinds of eye problems, which could result in temporary or permanent blindness. Chris Worsman, Senior Optometrist at Viewpoint Opticians in the U.K. says, "Many people forget to consider their eyesight when thinking about being safe in the sun and protecting their eyes is often a last minute thought. If you don't take necessary pre-cautions you are putting your vision at serious risk of damage from harmful UV rays.”

Without proper UV protection from quality sunglasses you could be putting yourself at risk for the following:

Cataracts, which is the clouding of the eye and causes dimming and blurring of vision.

Age-related Macular Degeneration, which can result in loss of vision in the central field and can be enhanced when eyes are not protected properly.

Skin cancer, which can occur on the eyelids and skin around the eye, because we don't usually cover this area with sunscreen.

Pingueculae and Pterygia, which are types of growths on the eye's surface that can become unsightly and cause distorted vision.

Photokeratitis, commonly known as "snow blindness" among skiers, which can cause temporary loss of vision.

Protecting your eyes from the sun isn't as simple as putting on a pair of sunglasses. Even on cloudy days, people are lulled into a false sense of security but UV exposure can be quite high on overcast days because UV is invisible radiation, not visible light, and can penetrate clouds.

So, finding the right pair of sunglasses is crucial to the health of your eyes, as not all shades offer the right level of protection and different types have different benefits. Opthalmologists recommend that you skip sunglasses that do not offer details about the level of UV protection. Instead, choose sunglasses that have the proper UV protection label, and block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB rays. And if you simply want sunglasses for generic use, go for a polarized pair because they reduce glare from sand, sun and water.

"UV radiation can't be seen or felt but once you have a condition caused by UV rays it cannot be reversed or healed. UV rays can have devastating effects on the eyes, which are especially susceptible to the sun. When someone goes years without proper protection they are at risk of a range of diseases," says Dr. Worsman. 

Photo credit: ©Kameron Krier | Dreamstime


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