Healthy Body

How to Protect Your Eyes from UV Light

Wearing sunglasses and a hat is the simplest and safest way to protect your eyes from UV rays. When purchasing new sunglasses, make sure that they fit well and that they block light from coming in around the lenses. Choose a hat with a broad dark brim that shades your eyes and reduces glare. All sunglasses work by blocking and/or reflecting the harmful UV light away from the eyes. Never assume that more expensive designer sunglasses are better or that they provide better UV protection than cheaper store-bought versions. Only buy sunglasses that are clearly marked as providing 99 to 100 percent protection from UVA and UVB or marked as having a UV400 rating.  

Consider the following factors from the National Institute of Health (NIH) when choosing sunglasses: 

The Correct Lens Material 

Sunglass lenses can be made from a variety of materials, such as plastic or polycarbonate. Retailers are required by law to indicate the level of UV protection a particular pair of sunglasses provide. Look for lenses that provide 99 to 100 percent protection from UVA and UVB or are marked as having a UV400 rating. According to the NIH, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates non-prescription sunglasses as medical devices, and it requires that manufacturers and retailers meet minimum requirements for UV protection, lens quality, impact resistance, and proper labeling. If you are unsure your sunglasses have UV-blocking lenses, have your glasses tested at an optical shop with a device called a photometer. 

The Correct Fit

Always choose comfort over style when selecting your sunglasses frames. They should feel good, stay in place, and cover the skin around your eyes. A good fit will minimize the light that enters the eye from the top, bottom, and sides of the lenses.

The Correct Use

Choose sunglasses according to your activity. Activities near water, snow, sand, and other reflective surfaces increase UV exposure by reflecting light. Polarized lenses are good for reducing glare from snow or water. Consider wearing wraparound sunglasses or goggles to protect yourself from intense light or when doing yard work or other activities that create flying debris.

Other Options

Consider staying indoors during parts of the day when the sun is strongest, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Check your local weather forecast for the UV index, a measure of UV intensity. Be aware that the UV index can be high even on cloudy days.

Everyone loves having fun in the sun. But always make sure you don’t walk away with prolonged exposure to UV rays that modify your eyes and lead you down the path of eye damage. For more information about how to protect your eyes, click here.

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