By Dora Adamopoulos, OD
After such a brutal winter, people are anxious to spend the summer months outdoors, whether it is a relaxing day at the pool or beach, grilling with friends, or exercising outside. While the sun’s damaging effect on skin is generally understood, many people don’t realize the same radiation also can affect eyes. Without UV protection, our eyes absorb powerful UVA and UVB rays which can burn and damage the retina.
National Sunglasses Day on June 27 is a chance to commit to wearing sunglasses every day to protect your vision and help you enjoy the beautiful summer weather.
Without protection a full day outside can cause immediate issues such as swollen or red eyes and temporary hypersensitivity to light, telltale signs of sunburn of the eyes. And years of cumulative exposure can cause cancer of the eye or eyelid and accelerate low vision conditions like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Wearing sunglasses regularly can protect your eyes and prevent serious damage to your vision. However, many still don’t make it a habit to put on shades regularly. A recent report by The Vision Council highlights how many Americans underestimate eye damage caused by the sun’s UV rays.
What’s shocking is nearly 30 percent of respondent of the 2014 Sun Protection Survey never wear shades. And 46 percent of individuals only wear sunglasses when it’s sunny out, which exposes their eyes to strong UV rays on cloudy or partially cloudy days.
For those who wear sunglasses, UV protection isn’t a given. Of those respondents wearing sunglasses when interviewed, 35 percent did not know if their eyewear provided UV protection and one in 10 people said their shades did not have such protection.
On National Sunglasses Day, start a new habit of protecting your vision and wearing sunglasses every time you’re outside. Preparation today can help sustain healthy vision for the future.