Every part of our bodies that sees the sun’s rays is susceptible to premature ageing and skin cancer. The best defense, aside from staying inside all the time which is not recommended, is to apply sunscreen. There happens to be one place that we cannot and should not apply sunscreen, our eyes.
Just like our skin, our eyes can get sunburned. Our eyelids are designed to protect our delicate eyes but the skin is so thin that light passes through, including sunlight. Over exposure to the sun can lead to vision loss, cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye causing blurry or double vision), macular degeneration (destruction of the central part of the retina impairing central vision) and eyelid cancer. In addition, squinting every time we go outside can contribute to those pesky crow’s feet on the skin surrounding our eyes.
So, how do we protect our eyes? The best thing we can do is wear sunglasses every time we go outside (despite the title of this piece, you don’t need to wear your sunglasses at night). It may sound funny to wear sunglasses if it’s not sunny out, but the UVA rays from the sun penetrate through clouds and haze and can still cause damage. I started wearing my sunglasses every day, rain or shine, a long time ago because my eyes are sensitive to light. I have what’s known as a photic sneeze reflex. It’s also known as, not joking, ACHOO (autosomal dominant compelling helio-opthalmic outburst) . I start sneezing uncontrollably when I go from low light (inside) to brighter light (outside). I found that if I wore my sunglasses I could avoid the sneezing fits most of the time. I believe it’s one of the reasons I don’t have a lot of wrinkles around my eyes; I’m not squinting every time I go outside.
Not all sunglasses are created equally, so how do you find the best sunglasses that (let’s face it) also look good.
- The sunglasses should have packaging or labels that state they have the ability to absorb and block 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
- Size matters. They should be large enough to cover the eyes, eyelids, and surrounding skin. The sun’s rays can enter the eye from a lot of different angles, so the bigger the better.
- They should be durable so they don’t break after one wear or even if they get dropped. I have lost count of the number of times I have dropped my poor sunglasses. They are still going strong despite the abuse.
- Polarized lenses to eliminate glare. This is especially helpful when driving, out in the snow, or when you are near water and white sand. Pavement, snow, water and white sand all reflect UV rays and cause us to squint from the glare. My lenses are polarized and it makes everything around me seem more colorful and vibrant. I put them on and look at the trees, the ocean, and the sky and it’s like whole new world! The polarized lenses can also help you see fish, turtles, and other fun stuff under the water. When I went to Hawaii I was able to see turtles swimming under the water but only if I had my polarized sunglasses on.
- Anti-reflective coating. This coating is applied to the back surface of the lenses in sunglasses. When the sun is behind you, its rays can be reflected from the back surfaces of the sunglasses into your eyes. The anti-reflective coating helps to eliminate this. Higher quality sunglasses often times come with this coating.
- For additional peace of mind that you are getting adequate sun protection from your sunglasses, you can look for the seal of recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation.
The following sunglasses brands have great, stylish options for every type of outdoor activity and they also offer prescription and readers:
I have 2 pairs of Maui Jim sunglasses and I absolutely love them! They fit into every category above including the seal of approval from the Skin Cancer Foundation. They are a little pricey, but they are amazing! When it comes to my health and well-being I am willing to spend a little more for the best because, well, I’m worth it.