Keeping your eyes healthy is important – imagine what your life would be like without them! This guide will help you understand the benefits of wearing sunglasses and how they can protect your eyes.
What is Solar Retinopathy?
Before we get into why you should wear sunglasses, let’s review one of the most significant risks of not wearing them.
Solar retinopathy is a medical term for a retina burn caused by the sun. Your retina is the most sensitive part of your eye, and looking into the sun can damage it.
It is very similar to a sunburn you can get on your skin – only it can permanently damage your eyesight and even lead to legal blindness. The risk is highest during a solar eclipse, but it only takes a few seconds for solar retinopathy to occur.
When you stare directly into the sun, the ultraviolet and high-energy blue light focuses directly on your sensitive eyes. If you don't filter this out, your retina can burn and cause permanent damage!
How Sunglasses Protect Your Eyes
Even if you don't burn your eyes by looking directly into the sun, even indirect exposure to UV rays over the long term can damage your eyes. It can cause everything from sunburn and cataracts to macular degeneration.
You may not have realized this, but your eyes are just as susceptible to sunburns as your skin. If you spend too much time in the sun – without any eye protection – your eyes may begin to itch, water, feel dry or gritty, and even have sensitivity to light.
If that happens, your eyes are sunburnt! It is not always serious and usually clears up in a few days, but it is better to avoid it in the first place.
Cataracts are caused by aging and the deterioration of the lens over time, but extended exposure to UV light can increase your risk of developing them. In other words, reducing your exposure to UV rays with sunglasses can help you avoid getting cataracts.
Macular degeneration is another eye disease that can reduce your ability to see. As you may have guessed, high UV rays can also speed up this process. This is another reason you should always wear sunglasses while out in the sun!
Benefits of Wearing Sunglasses
So, how exactly do sunglasses protect your eyes from the problems we discussed above? Let’s review the specifics regarding UV Coatings, polarized lenses, mirroring, and anti-reflective coatings.
The UV coating on your glasses is perhaps the most important feature when it comes to protecting your eyes. Think of it like sunscreen – it protects your vision from the harmful UV rays from the sun. Most glasses that have polycarbonate lenses have built-in UV protection, but the best thing to do is to confirm with your eye doctor that your sunglasses will protect you.
Polarized lenses also support eye health by reducing the effects of reflected light. For instance, if you are on a lake or at a ski resort, the sunlight bouncing off and creating a glare can reduce your visibility. This, in turn, can cause eye strain and further damage your vision.
Wearing glasses with polarized lenses helps filter out this reflective light – not only preventing eye strain but also making it safer to conduct outdoor activities!
The mirroring effect of sunglasses is just what it sounds like – it is what reflects the UV light away from your eyes. This coating is typically applied on the front of your glasses and can help you avoid straining your eyes by squinting.
The best sunglasses also include anti-reflective coatings on the back of the glass. This prevents any additional light from reflecting into your eyes from the back of the lenses.