More than a Fashion Statement: Why It's Important to Protect Your Eyes

Celebrities may sport sunglasses for the fashion, but everyone can benefit from protecting their eyes from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays harm both the internal and external structures of the eye and carry short- and long-term effects.

Unfortunately, many people don't recognize the harm the sun can have on vision. A recent survey by Transitions Optical, Inc., showed that only 9% of respondents knew that sun exposure can cause vision damage.

But the effects are very apparent. Short-term exposure to the sun can burn the surface of the eye, just like a sunburn on the skin. Such burns can even come from reflections off snow or pavement. Over time, UV rays are known to contribute to cataracts, pterygium (an abnormal growth in the corner of the eye that can block vision), age-related macular degeneration and skin cancer around the eyelids.

Proper sunglasses can help prevent these conditions. When looking for eye protection, make sure the lenses block 99 - 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound sunglass frames can offer further protection.

Prescription lenses can be treated with a UV coating, and are also available in photochromic styles that darken when exposed to sunlight. You can also have a pair of sunglasses made with your prescription.

Most network providers offer a selection of prescription and non-prescription sunwear options. Your vision plan may also allow you to save money on additional purchases, including sunglasses.

Sources: United States Environmental Protection Agency and American Academy of Ophthalmology

 

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