Preserve Eyesight with Sunglasses that Protect Your Eyes from harmful UV rays

Although sunglasses are available in various colors and designs, style is just a fringe benefit. Sunglasses are a necessity, not an accessory. The truth is that sunglasses play an important role in preserving your eyesight by protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. But, not all sunglasses were created equal, and not all sunglasses provide sufficient solar protection.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the sun’s biggest threat to your eyes and your eye health and can cause long-term and short-term damage to your vision. If your eyes are exposed to excessive UV radiation, you may experience photokeratitis – like sunburn of the eye. The American Optometric Association says symptoms include, “red eyes, a foreign body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing.”

Excessive UV exposure to your eyes increases the risks of certain eye cancers, macular degeneration, cataracts and even blindness. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 20% of the world’s blind population may be a result of UV exposure. But, most U.S. adults tend to disregard the potential eye problems the sun can cause.

The Vision Council’s VisionWatch survey of more than 10,000 adults found:

  • Only one third of adults routinely wear sunglasses when they go outside.
  • 42 percent of adults believe the misconception that darker sunglasses provide better UV protection.
  • Only 44 percent of adults are concerned with UV protection when buying sunshades.
  • One third of adults have experienced symptoms as a result of prolonged UV exposure.

According to eye care professionals, your sunglasses should block 99 to 100 percent of UV rays and absorb most high-energy visible (HEV) rays. How will you know which sunglasses block the right amount of UV rays? Remember the phrase, “If you got it, flaunt it”? Manufacturers will usually flaunt UV protection.

Sunglass labels, stickers and product descriptions usually advertise UV protection and its percentage.


If the UV blockage is not listed or the percentage is not clear, ask the retailer or the optical professional to verify before you purchase. A manufacturer’s silence may mean that the product lacks UV protection or may not provide enough protection. Pay special attention to glasses labeled eyewear or cosmetic glasses which may only block up to 70% of UV rays.

Finally, here are three important points to ponder before purchasing your next pair of sunglasses:

  • Don’t disregard UV protection for style.
  • Remember that eye damage from UV radiation cannot be undone.
  • Consider the cost of a pair of sunglasses that protect your eyes versus the cost of your eyesight.

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