A number of scientific studies indicate that spending long hours in the sun without eye protection can damage your eyes by contributing to cataract, Glaucoma and other growths on the eye. Sunglasses are an easy solution that makes life more comfortable when outdoors, while also providing critical protection from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. That is why ophthalmologists suggest you must wear 99 percent and higher UV absorbent sunglasses whenever you're in the sun for long periods of time.
Thankfully, sunglasses don’t have to be expensive to protect your eyes and they can often be found at a local shop. Unfortunately, a high price is not always a guarantee of high quality and protection. You can get confused over the standards and labelling regarding UV protection. Therefore, next time you go out looking for the right sunglasses, keep the following things in mind:
- Look for UV protection: Don’t be deceived by colour, looks or cost. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of the lens or the price tag. UV light is absorbed by both plastic and glass lenses. However it can be improved by adding certain chemicals to the lens material during manufacturing or by applying special lens coatings. Always choose sunglasses that are labelled as blocking 99-100% of UV rays.
- Wraparounds: Wraparounds offer added protection. Sunglasses that wrap around the temples prevent the sun’s rays from entering from the sides. Some studies have shown that enough UV rays enter around standard sun-glass frames to reduce the protective benefits of the lenses.
- Ensure they block enough sunlight: Sunglasses should screen out 75-90% of visible light. To determine if a pair is dark enough, try the glasses on in front of a mirror. If you can see your eyes easily through the lenses, they probably are too light.
- Check the quality of lenses: Look for a uniform tint, not darker in one area than in another. To check the quality of lenses, hold the glasses at arm’s length and then look through them at a straight line in the distance. Slowly move the lens across the line. If the straight edge distorts or curves, the lens is flawed.
Remember, sunglasses cannot protect your eyes from certain intense light sources. Arc welding, tanning
lights, gazing directly at the sun especially during a solar eclipse, can severely damage your eyes. Looking at any of these light sources without proper protection can cause a permanent loss of central vision
. Your ophthalmologist can recommend the appropriate measures to take to protect your eyes in special situations.