The Importance of Wearing Sunglasses: How They Protect Our Eyes

Oversized frames, aviators, and iconic round lenses… No matter your preferred style, sunglasses have been a wardrobe staple since they were first mass produced in the U.S. nearly 100 years ago

Today, we know sunglasses are more than just a fashion accessory; in fact, they’re one of the most important tools we have to protect our eyes. Find out more below about how a pair of shades can help you preserve your vision.

How the Sun Affects Your Eyes

Just as UV rays can damage the skin, they can also affect the eyes. “UV radiation from the sun can hurt your eyes by causing damage to the surface tissues, cornea, or lens,” according to Eye Consultants of Atlanta ophthalmologist Dr. Michael Roach.

This sunlight damage harms the eyes in a number of ways. It accelerates aging in the eyes’ structures, potentially leading to corneal damage, cataracts, and macular degeneration, all of which can contribute to decreased vision. Certain types of skin cancer can also develop within the eye tissue, such as the conjunctiva (clear tissue that covers the whites of the eye), cornea, and inner eye.

Although rare, it’s even possible to experience sunburn of the eye. Known as photokeratitis, this painful eye condition occurs when ultraviolet rays temporarily damage the cornea and conjunctiva. Symptoms can include light sensitivity, pain or redness in the eyes, watery eyes, blurred vision, swelling, gritty sensation, and temporary loss of vision.

Fortunately, UV damage is avoidable by protecting your eyes, and the easiest way to do so is to don a pair of sunglasses.

How Sunglasses Protect Your Eyes

Sunglasses are a physical barrier that reflect UV rays. When seeking sunglasses, be sure to choose lenses that block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. The larger the frames, the more surface area they’ll protect. Since the eyelids and surrounding skin are thin and sensitive, using sunglasses large enough to block out the sun’s rays is an excellent measure of protection for those areas, as well.  

Beyond quality UVA and UVB protection, it’s up to you whether you want to consider these other features: 

  • While polarization can reduce glare, resulting in a more comfortable experience, it doesn’t offer any added UV protection. 
  • Colored or mirrored tinting is also a matter of personal preference and style, so long as it doesn’t interfere with your vision. 
  • In terms of size, look for a pair that fits your face shape well and doesn’t slide down your nose or off your ears. 

Our staff can help you find the perfect sunglasses to fit your lifestyle, whether you’re an outdoor sports enthusiast or a jetsetter seeking the latest fashion frames.

Once you’ve settled on a pair for yourself, don’t forget the rest of the family. People of all ages need sun protection for their eyes, including children. Fortunately, there are also frames available to suit even the littlest wearers, with features such as straps and soft materials for comfort and convenience.When you’re ready to shop for sunglasses for the family, turn to Eye Consultants of Atlanta. Our optical shop makes it simple and convenient to receive eye exams and glasses. Find optical shop locations and services here.