We all know that it’s important to protect our skin from the sun to prevent us from getting burned and to lower our risk of skin cancer.
However, what a lot of people aren’t aware of, is that it’s equally as important to protect your eyes against damage from the sun. Over time, our eyes can become damaged by the UV rays emitted by the sun and by indoor tanning beds, which can lead to cataracts and eye cancers.
This damage is easily avoided by always taking steps to protect your eyes from exposure to UV rays.
Choosing the right sunglasses
When you are choosing sunglasses, there’s more to it than picking the pair that looks best on your face if you want to ensure that your eyes are properly protected. Choosing the darkest colored glasses won’t necessarily do the trick either.
When choosing sunglasses you should opt for a pair that blocks between 99% and 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are the longer waves emitted by the sun that are responsible for skin ageing, and UVB rays are the shorter waves responsible for burning. Both types of rays can cause damage to your eyes.
It’s also important to buy sunglasses that screen between 75% and 90% of visible light. This is important because it stops your eyes from being affected by glare, which can cause ‘snow-blindness’ and eye strain.
You should also ensure that your sunglass lenses are free from scratches and imperfections as this will impede your vision, and that both lenses are matched in color. If they aren’t, this could cause eye strain as your eyes struggle to match them.
Finally, if you can, opt for wrap-around sunglasses. These will protect your eyes from sunlight that is coming in from the side, as well as from the front.
UV contact lenses
If you are working inside and so it’s not really appropriate to wear sunglasses, but you still want to ensure protection against sunlight coming in from the windows, then you can opt for a pair of UV contact lenses.
These work just like your regular contact lenses in terms of correcting your vision, but they offer you some UV protection as well.
It’s important to remember that UV contact lenses won’t protect the eyelids and area around the eye, so it’s still important to wear sunglasses if you are in direct sunlight.
Avoid indoor tanning
Tanning beds cause exposure to UV at around 100 times the level that you would experience outside, which means that they are bad news for your eyes as well as for your skin.
As a rule, they are best avoided.
Don’t be fooled by clouds
Just because it’s cloudy outside, it doesn’t mean that you are protected from the sun. The sun’s rays can still pass through clouds and haze, so even if you don’t feel warm, you can still be exposed to UV.
This is particularly the case at the times of the day when the sun is at its strongest, from midday to early afternoon, and at high altitudes.