Dispelling Misconceptions About Sunglasses

We all know that certain types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun can be extremely harmful to our skin & eyes, and the importance of sunblock and polarized sunglasses has become increasingly well known in recent decades. However, many people don’t understand why their eyes are at such critical risk, and it’s not uncommon that we meet patients who are misinformed about how they should think about protecting their eyes from the sun. Here’s why sunglasses are crucial to your long-term and short-term eye health, as well as some responses to commonly held misconceptions:

Dispelling Misconceptions About SunglassesMany people who wear glasses for their everyday vision see prescription sunglasses as a superfluous add-on, when in fact, prescription sunglasses are arguably just as important to your eye health as your indoor pair is. Furthermore, many people only think to wear sunglasses when the sun is particularly bright or intruding into their eyeline, but UV radiation can still reach your eyes on an overcast day (though you are receiving less radiation from the sun in such conditions). Additionally, because people associate the sun so heavily with summertime, they may not realize that UV radiation can be more intense in the snow than on the beach. This is because the snow and other brightly colored environments reflect light, intensifying the overall levels of radiation reaching your eyes and skin.

Many people mistakenly believe that additional coatings and lens types, such as the Transitions® Signature® VII, are sufficient to keep their eyes safe from the sun’s UV radiation at all times. These lenses are activated by exposure to UV radiation, which causes them to darken and help protect the eyes from the sun when the wearer is outdoors. While Transitions® lenses are extremely effective at filtering out UV radiation, a dedicated pair of prescription sunglasses with polarized lenses (such as Xperio UV™ Polarized Sun Lenses) is necessary for any prolonged time outdoors. Moreover, most cars in the United States already have UV protection built into the windshield, so Transitions® lenses will not activate in the car—one of the most important places to have clear, reliable vision. Again, Transitions® lenses do offer fantastic protection from UV radiation, but they’re not a replacement for a dedicated pair of polarized sunglasses.

Several eye problems have been linked to UV exposure, including macular degeneration, cataracts, photokeratitis, cancers of the eye and surrounding skin, and more. UV exposure is cumulative over one’s lifetime, meaning that the effects build on each other over time and cannot be undone once they’ve occurred. These are just a couple of the reasons it’s so important to protect your eyes as much as you possibly can, so everyone should have a quality pair of sunglasses with polarized lenses.

Not all sunglass lenses are created equal—check the labels on any shades you buy to ensure they block 100 percent of UV rays, and avoid the discount bin. Tinted glasses with no or insufficient UV shielding will simply not offer the protection you need. Speaking of which, here’s one more misconception: despite what some people think, the color of a pair of sunglasses’ tint makes virtually no difference on how much UV light they filter out, so choose whichever color you like. However, your style of frames will have some influence on your sunglasses’ effectiveness, so choose a pair that fits closely and lets in as little unfiltered light as possible.

If you’re interested in prescription sunglasses with Xperio UV™ Polarized Sun Lenses (which offer the highest level of UV protection available) or any of the many services we offer, contact Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons to schedule an appointment today. Be sure to follow Dr. William Segal and Dr. Marc Lay on Facebook and Twitter for more eyecare information, fun facts, and the latest news and updates about eye health.