Most Americans are aware of the dangers of Ultraviolet (UV) rays to your skin, (such as sunburn and skin cancer) and the necessity of applying UV blocking sunscreen and avoiding direct contact with the sun when spending time in the sun. What is less known is that UV and other harmful types of radiation from the sun are also a risk to your eyes.
If you are considering going outside without sunglasses, consider this: Prolonged exposure to harmful UV light has been shown to cause damage to the eye.
Risks of UV Eye Exposure
Excessive short term exposure to UV is known to result in photokeratitis or a ''sunburn of the eye'', which results in pain, blurred vision or even temporary vision loss. Long-term ultraviolet exposure can lead to more threatening eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and others, which can be a threat to vision. Just like the real sun, tanning beds present a substantial risk of overexposure to UV.
Selecting UV Protective Sunglasses
For sufficient ultraviolet protection, sunglasses should completely block all UV rays. Look for sunglasses labeled ''UV 400'', which indicates that they prevent both UVA and UVB rays from entering your eyes (400 refers to the wavelength of light in nanometers).
The size of your sunglasses is also important. Sunglasses with side protection can prevent harmful UV light from coming in through the sides and back of the frame.
You don't have to spend a lot of money on your sunglasses to have sufficient UV protection, but it's essential to be certain the sunglasses offer full UV coverage. More and more manufacturers recognize the importance of offering proper defense from the harmful risks of exposure to UV light. Further, in addition to keeping your eyes protected from the harmful sunlight, stylish sunglasses are all the rage, so go buy yourself a pair (or two) and let the sun shine down!