Summer is here, which means it's incredibly important to know what you're doing when it comes to protecting yourself and your loved ones against harmful Ultra-Violet (UV) radiation from the sun. Dr. Trevor T. Miranda of Cobble Hill Eyecare in Cobble Hill, British Columbia comments, “Your first line of defense against the sun, and possibly one of the most essential parts of your summertime UV protection overall, is a good pair of sunglasses with proper UV filtering. Sunglasses are more than just tinted lenses in front of your eyes to keep them shaded from the light. They are also a crucial part of maintaining your long term visual health and preventing eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts.”
The American Optometric Association suggests that good sunglasses should have dark lenses, that block 99-100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays and 75-90 percent visible light. Sunglasses such as these should be easily available to you in many locations. Falling into the trap of buying cheap $10 off the rack sunglasses that are likely not made to block UV rays can prove to be damaging to your eyes in many ways. This is especially true if your sunglasses have a dark tint, but no UV protection, because the dark tint tricks your pupils into opening wider than usual, letting an unusually high amount of UV radiation into the eye.
One of the more important minor conditions that can result from inadequate UV protection from your sunglasses is a condition known as photokeratitis. This is a type of “sunburn of the eye” that can make even blinking painful, and can also cause you to feel a grainy feeling in your eyes and serious light sensitivity.
Another problem caused by sunglasses that don't filter UV light properly is the increased risk of developing cataracts. Dr. Miranda comments, “Although cataracts happen naturally anyway, overexposure to UV radiation from the sun can cause protein in the eye to prematurely harden into clumps, called cataracts, which can potentially block vision and cause serious visual issues. The only way to get rid of these cataracts is to have them surgically removed, so it's best to prevent them in the first place by wearing proper sunglasses!”
Another less mentioned problem is the possibility of skin cancer of the eyelid. Known as basal cell carcinoma, this cancer won't spread to other parts of the body, but can spread quite deep into the eyelid, causing pain. It can also leave a very noticeably mark when removing even a small piece of cancerous skin from the eyelid.
For more information about the risks of low quality sunglasses, speak with Dr. Miranda today!