“A lot of folks think the darker the sunglasses, the more protection you get,” says Dr. Muriel Schornack, an optometrist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “The truth is it’s all about the UV protective quality of the lenses. It’s possible to get good protection without dark lenses — they are not correlated.”
It’s important to shield your eyes from UVA and UVB rays, as well as high-energy visible light, which is near the UV range and can contribute to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
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Here are some tips for protecting your peepers from the sun, courtesy of Schornack:
- Wear protective eyeglasses. Your clear glasses can provide just as much protection as a dark pair of shades. Buy prescriptive lenses with high-index material or UV coating. “Just as you can get sunburn on your skin, you can get UV radiation that affects the eyes, even when it’s cloudy,” says Schornack. “If you’re a regular glasses wearer, you can be protected whether it’s cloudy or not.”
- Have your sunglasses measured for UVA and UVB protection. Local optical shops carry instruments that can measure how much radiation is getting through lenses. “If you purchased sunglasses at a store other than an optical shop, save the receipt and get it checked out with UV meters. If it doesn’t provide complete protection, you may want to reconsider the purchase.”
- Consider a “Jackie-O” style of sunglasses. “It’s especially important to remember that skin cancer can happen around the eyes,” says Dr. Schornack. “Larger sunglasses and glasses that get close to your face can provide a lot of protection.”
- Put sunglasses on your kids. Kids spend more time outdoors than adults and their young eyes are especially sensitive to UV exposure.
Try this: Coppertone Polarized Lenses, $115 to $380 depending on style