Sunglasses make you stylish, but that’s not the main reason to wear them. They are important when you consider your eye health.
For years we’ve preached the benefits of sunscreen for your skin–no matter the season. But did you know your eyes could be damaged and get a sunburn just like your skin? That’s why it’s critical to protect your eyes from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun.
Overexposure to UV rays over a lifetime could lead to dangerous eye conditions, many of which aren’t treatable.
The area around and on your eyelids has some of your body’s most delicate skin. UV light from the sun can damage not only the skin, but also the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. So a good pair of sunglasses is much more than a fashion statement. They are an investment in your health said dermatologist Dawn Davis, M.D.
“It’s a very good investment to have big sunglasses around the eyes,” she said. “The bigger, the better, like movie stars wear.”
Bigger doesn’t mean more expensive. You should choose sunglasses labeled as having broad spectrum coverage or that block out 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. Most of the time the more expensive sunglasses are due to the brand, frame quality and optics quality, but inexpensive sunglasses still give full 100 percent UV protection. If you wear prescription sunglasses, you should already have 100 percent UV protection.
“Ultraviolet light can pass through the eye to the lens and cause cataracts,” Dr. Davis said. “So if you wear sunglasses, you decrease your risk of cataract formation.”
Sunglasses have other health benefits, too:
- Reduce risk of skin cancer. You don’t hear about it much, but you can get skin cancer on your eyelids and the skin around your eyes. Wearing sunglasses while outdoors can reduce the risk of developing skin cancer on the delicate tissue around your eyes.
- Blue light protection. You’ve heard about the blue light we get from electronic devices, but you may not have known the sun is actually the producer of the most blue light. Of course, we don’t stare into the sun all day, and we do stare into our devices.
- Safe driving. Wearing sunglasses while driving reduces glare from the sun and improves your vision so you can drive safer.
- Migraine mitigation. The bright light from the sun can trigger migraines for some folks. And constant squinting cause unnecessary eye strain and fatigue.
Select the same type of sunglasses for your children.”We suggest them on children as early, and as young, as they will wear them,” Dr. Davis said.
Start young, and create a lifelong habit of staying stylish and safe in the sun.