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June 26, 2020

Keys,check. Wallet,check. Mask,check. Sunglasses...check?! You better go back into the house and grab them, because they’re more important than you think. Sunglasses are one of theeasiest ways to protect your eye health, especially in the summer months. Unfortunately, not all sunnies are created equal. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends only buying lenses that screen out 75-90% of visible light and block out 99 to 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays. It’s also important to choose a frame that fits your face properly to ensure UV protection from every angle (optometrists can also recommend the best fit, lens color, etc). But, do we really need to be taking this so seriously? Short answer: YES. In the same way that you (hopefully) wouldn’t go outside for hours without applying sunscreen, we need to remember that our eyes need protection as well. 

Salt Optics - North Sails Limited Edition

Damaging Effects Of The Sun

UV radiation damages the eye’s surface tissues as well as the cornea and lens. Too much exposure can increase your risk of eye diseases, cancers, etc. Wearing AOA recommended sunglasses can protect you from the following:

  • Cataracts. New studies have shown that chronic sunlight exposure increases the risk ofcataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens usually associated with aging. Cataracts are the main cause of blindness and symptoms can includeblurry vision, light sensitivity, decreased night vision, etc. In other words, this is something you definitely want to avoid!
  • Growths On The Eye. One example of this would be pterygium, or “surfer’s eye,” a common condition caused by long term exposure to UV light. You might think this is something that only occurs in older generations, but it can show up as early as our teens or twenties. These types of UV-related growths can be prevented by wearing sunglasses and a hat in areas with strong sunlight. 
  • Photokeratitis (Snow Blindness) and Photoconjunctivitis. Photokeratitis happens when UV radiation causes inflammation of the cornea and photoconjunctivitis is when the conjunctiva (the transparent layer that protects your eyeball) becomes inflamed by UV radiation. Symptoms can include pain (like a sunburn), redness, swelling, blurry vision, light sensitivity, tearing, swelling, and more. In other words, a whole lot of NOPE. 
  • Salt Optics Brower in Honey Gold
  • Macular Degeneration. Although the sun doesn’t directlycauseage-related macular degeneration, it can definitely make it worse (blue and violet light from the sun can damage the retina). According to the Schepens Eye Institute, the “blue rays of the spectrum seem to accelerate AMD more than other rays of the spectrum,” so finding a pair of sunglasses that protects against both blue/violet and UV light is ideal.  
  • Skin Cancer. A nice pair of wrap-around shades can protect the delicate skin around the eyes from skin cancer. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas, as well as melanoma, frequently appear on the eyelids (where it can be particularly hard to apply sunscreen). Most of these appear on the lower lid, as it receives the most sun exposure. Wear your sunnies and consider a wide-brimmed hat for added protection. 
  • Salt Optics A'MAREE SUN

    How To Protect Yourself

    You only get one set of eyes, so wearing proper eye protection (starting at a young age) is CRUCIAL if you want to lower your risk of tumors and potentially blinding eye diseases/conditions. Even if you choose to wear UV-blocking contact lenses, you should still wear sunglasses for extra protection. If you’re already a card-carrying member of the bespectacled club, it’s possible to get UV-protected prescription glasses with different tints.  Bear in mind that it’s not the dark tint that makes it effective; plastic lenses need to have a UV coating applied (polycarbonate lenses block UV without an additional coating). If you do not have a prescription, make certain that whatever you purchase has full UV protection. Surprisingly, dark glasses that do NOT filter UV rays can put your eyes at greater risk due to your pupils remaining larger and more open (in other words, those cheap Walmart aviators will do you more harm than good). Trust me, even just one day on a beach in the middle of the summer can cause some painful, albeit temporary, conditions that could easily be avoided with the right pair of sunglasses. 

    Salt Optics Hillier in Black

    If you want the best protection for your eyes year-round,schedule an appointmenttoday and we can recommend the best tints and frames to ensure your comfort and safeguard your vision, whether you’re on the beach or driving around town. Any shades we put on your face will not only look and feel  good, they will also be 100% free of distortions and imperfections. Keep your eyes safe, and stay cool!