Sunglasses: your first line of defence against UV rays

On sunny days, many people reach for their shades. Besides making you look great, your sunglasses are also an important part of your eye health. If you don’t already wear sunglasses regularly, here’s why you should.

How the sun can affect your eyes

The sun can cause significant damage to your eyes. One possible outcome of exposure is inflammation of the cornea (the outer layer of your eye) and the conjunctiva (the mucous membranes in the corner of your eyes). This can be likened to sunburn and is caused by looking directly at the sun or by seeing reflected UV rays on the water, the road or the snow.
Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to eye damage including macular degeneration and cataracts. This type of damage is cumulative, meaning people who spend more time outdoors are more at risk.
Wearing sunglasses can help avoid these and other types of ocular sun damage.


Tips for choosing the right sunglasses

Not all sunglasses are equal. Cheap sunglasses may not block UV rays at all, making them useless for keeping your eyes safe. Here’s what you should look for in a good pair of sunglasses. 
  • UV protection. Look for lenses marked 100% UV protection, as they’ll block harmful rays from getting to your eyes. Glasses that block less than 99% of rays may be worse for your eyes than wearing nothing at all. The dark lenses make your pupils dilate, letting in even more light.
  • Polarization. Polarized lenses block light that causes reflections on surfaces like roads, water, sand and snow. They’re ideal for people who spend a lot of time driving or on the water, because they cut glare and make colours sharper. 
  • Frame size. Larger frames block more light. Wraparound styles that sit closer to your head and curve around your face are a good choice because they block the sides of your eyes from the sun’s rays.

What if I wear glasses?

If you wear prescription glasses, there are a number of options available. You can wear:

  • Contacts with any sunglasses you wish. You should favour UV protection and polarized lenses.
  • Prescription sunglasses. Tinted prescription lenses can be put into some frames. Note that not all types of sunglasses can support a prescription.  
  • Photochromic lenses. This type of lens darkens in the presence of UV rays, and reverts back to clear when you’re indoors, meaning you only ever have to wear one pair of glasses.

Sunglasses at Eye Health Centres

The staff at our three optical boutiques can help you choose the best sunglasses, eyeglasses and photochromic lenses for your lifestyle. In fact, we have eyewear for every member of your family. Visit our Calgary Kensington, Calgary Shawnee or Regina locations today to speak to one of our expert opticians.

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