Those ultraviolet rays from the sun can do more than damage your skin. They also can damage your eyesight. Peter K. Kaiser, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute, says wearing sunglasses with appropriate UV protection is one of the best — and easiest — ways to help protect your eyesight.
Sunglasses will help with reducing glare from the sun, which affects us more as we age and our eyes become more sensitive to light. Dr. Kaiser notes that if you wear prescription eyeglasses, you already may be getting some UV protection — especially if the lenses are polycarbonate with a UV coating. “There are even new prescription glasses that automatically darken outdoors, offering you protection against glare as well as UV radiation,” he says.
Polarized lenses are most effective in reducing glare. Brown, grey, green and yellow lenses are best at minimizing color distortion, which is important for driving and outdoor sports. But in general, color is less important than UV rating. If you spend a great deal of time outdoors during the summer, you may want an ophthalmologist to help you find the best type of protection for your eyes.
How to get the most out of your sunglasses
- Select sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB light to best protect vision. You don’t need to pay a premium — UV protection is available in all price ranges. Choose the highest level UVA/UVB protection you can find (usually printed right on the tag).
- Amber and brown lenses enhance contrast and will help you see better.
- Wear sunglasses regularly when you’re outdoors — on your nose, not on top of your head!
“It’s very important to wear sunglasses and avoid sun glare when you’re outside in the summer. Colors and objects are crisper and easier to see. Blocking harmful UV rays may decrease your risk of age-related eye diseases in the future,” says Dr. Kaiser.