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Why Sunglass Lens Quality is Important

In anticipation of Spring I thought I would touch on a topic that is pertinent to our protection against the sun.

Hopefully we will be seeing much more of the sun over the next few months! Remember that it is important to take some precautions in regards to preventing sun damage. Sunscreen is the obvious tool in preventing any sun-related problems, but according to an article on aarp.com, an under-recognized sun protector is actually our sunglasses.

Sunglasses are not just fashion accessories; they are actually very important tools for protecting eyes.

"We need sunglasses for the same reason that we need sunscreen," said Dr. Catharine Crockett, an ophthalmologist with Eye Surgical Associates, Bloomington. Sunglasses protect our eyes from the damaging ultraviolet rays.

The UV radiation causes damage to the eye’s tissue, destroying cells and even causing sunburn to the cornea. Long-term exposure can result in skin cancer on the eyelids and the surface of the eye.

One health issue that is of particular concern to older adults is the sun’s connection to macular degeneration. Ultraviolet A radiation penetrates the eye and may be partially responsible for severe vision loss in the elderly.

Sunglasses can filter out 99 to 100 percent of UV light. Most generic sunglasses usually provide some sort of optical protection, but as the price increases so does the quality of UV protection.

"The main thing to look for is the quality of the lens" rather than the frame, said Steve DeValle, Gailey Eye Clinic's optical manager. "Most people go for fashion, fit and function. What they should do is function, fit and then fashion."

DeValle says to look for sunglasses with tags that filter out 99 to 100 percent of UV light, or with stickers that have a “UV 400” label (meaning they block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers).

Polarized lenses are always better, but the lens’ tint doesn’t necessarily make a difference.

Now this spring, not only will you be fashionably on trend, but also your eyes will be safe from the sun’s glare.

 

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