Summer and your Sunnies: Not Just for Looking Good

Jan 25, 2022 | Teacher's Corner

We all tend to think of how much exercise we need, what we should be eating to stay healthy, putting on sunblock when we are out and about, but have you ever thought about your eyes?

Sunnies should protect you from UVA and UVB Rays

UV What?

We often forget that our eyes can be damaged by the sun too. Surfaces like water, sand, even buildings reflect the UVA and UVB rays which increase exposure and double the UV risk to your eyes. Sun damage to the eye may pose a serious risk in the long run and can be the result of blurred vision, red irritated eyes to diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.

It’s also important to note that the skin around the eyes also needs protection. There are various types of cancerous melanomas that can develop in and around the eyes. We all know the best protection is wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. But remember your stylish pair of sunnies may not be protecting the eyes as well as you think.


The right kind of sunglasses should have a label that indicates their protection level and this should be 100% UVA and UVB protection or UV400.

Don’t trust any label. Sunglasses are regulated as medical devices by the FDA, intended to prevent the sun’s damaging effects on the eyes. It is therefore important to get your sunnies from a trusted source. Do some research or ask your optometrist what brands they recommend.

Do not just go cheap.

Darker lenses aren’t always better as people who are light sensitive might believe. Darker lenses without adequate UV protection can actually be worse than no sunglasses at all. The reason for this is that very dark lenses cause the pupil to dilate too much and actually increases the retinal exposure to UV if unfiltered.

Selecting the right sunnies will protect your eyes

The stylish oversized sunglasses are a good choice providing extra UV protection from the periphery. Wraparound frames also help with the extra protection from the sides.

Children are also at risk. Sun damage is proportional to the amount of time we spend in the sun throughout our lives. Children spend a lot of time outdoors and the cumulative dose of sun exposure is therefore maximum between birth and 16 years of age. That means they are at most risk. Don’t let your guard down on cloudy, humid days – the clouds don’t block the harmful rays.

Contact lens wearers should also be wearing sunglasses, although their lenses might have UV protection in the material of the lens, this is not enough as the lens only covers the cornea and pupil not the white parts of the eye as well and remember the lids need protection too.

Before Going Outside, Remember to Grab Your Sunglasses.

(Janet Diedericks)