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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Sun Protection Vital for Eyes

Posted: 06.24.2011

Sunglasses may be your most important accessory. Eye disease, particularly cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the leading causes of vision loss among older adults are just some of the possible consequences of prolonged exposure to the sun. A corneal ultraviolet injury similar to a sun burn can happen in just a single outing on a very bright day. Picking the right pair of sunglasses is very important. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute has the following tips to keep in mind while making your sunglass selections.

  • Lenses should offer 100 percent of both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) protection. Make sure to read labels. When a manufacturer or supplier makes this available, they are taking product claim responsibility. When available, request the lenses to be tested for UV protection. A higher price generally signals increased durability or better fashion, not greater protection.
  • Sunglasses should cover the entire eye area and wrap all the way around to your temples. Full coverage means the sun’s rays cannot enter from the side. Wraparound styles may also reduce the drying effect of the wind.
  • Lens color can affect the degree of protection and comfort. Colors such as brown improve contrast and depth perception while gray is considered a true color – meaning it does not distort other colors.
  • Polarized lenses are the best choice for overall sun wear protection. It is the only lens that eliminates virtually all glares, which is concentrated reflected light, often blinding and discomforting to the eye. Polarized lenses also deliver excellent UV protection.
  • Transition lenses have the capability to change color. This lens is often referred to as sun sensors, photogray, or photochromatic depending on lens material and manufacturers. It is like having two pairs of eyeglasses in one. It will change from light to dark in less than one minute depending on sunlight conditions. In its darkened state, it protects us much like a tinted sunglass lens but does not offer the glare protection of a polarized lens. Recently, transition lenses are available with polarizing capabilities but are limited to certain prescription powers and lens styles.
  • Antireflective (AR) coatings eliminate internal reflections in a lens. When referring to AR in sunglasses, it is usually applied to the back side lens surface only. This helps reduce annoying and uncomforting reflections to the viewer.
  • Of the three lens materials: polycarbonate, plastic, and glass; polycarbonate is considered the lens material of choice for having the safest, thinnest and lightest lens combination. Individual activities and or lifestyle can be an important factor in determining proper lens material.
  • Sunglasses should be worn with a wide brimmed hat to further block the sun’s rays. On the average, 50 percent of sunlight comes from directly overhead and can slip past most sunglasses.
  • Never look at the sun directly. Even repeatedly staring at the sun reflected on water can damage eyes.
  • UV coating on contact lenses are important, but do not fully protect your eyes. Contact lens wearers should additionally wear sunglasses to block out harmful sunlight.
  • Certain drugs may make your eyes more light sensitive. Be sure to read drug labels and take the proper precautions.
  • Keep children’s eyes protected. Children’s eyes are more prone to sun damage than adults because their lenses are clearer.

About Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is ranked the best eye hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Having earned an international reputation as one of the premier providers of eye care in the world, Bascom Palmer is also ranked #1 in patient care and #1 in residency training by Ophthalmology Times. As the largest ophthalmic care, research and educational facility in the southeastern United States, more than 250,000 patients with nearly every ophthalmic condition are treated each year and more than 12,000 surgeries are performed annually. Founded in 1962, Bascom Palmer has patient care facilities in Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples, and Plantation, Florida.