We all know that the sun does damage to our skin, but our eyes are not immune to the same harsh rays that make us slather ourselves in sunscreen every few hours. We take precautions to protect our skin from UV rays, but we don’t always do the same for our eyes — and we should. According to The Las Vegas Review Journal, damage to the eyes from the sun can accumulate for years before it starts making itself known through symptoms and vision loss.
There are a number of ailments and maladies that we put ourselves at risk for by not protecting our eyes, according to Las Vegas optometrist Dr. Mark Lee. An obvious one is sunburn of the eye, which is referred to as photokeratitis. Unprotected eyes are also at risk for pterygium, which is a non cancerous growth on the membrane that covers the sclera of the eye. Otherwise, not wearing protective sunglasses can lead to cataracts and melanoma of the eyelid and skin surrounding the eye. The problem is that many people don’t wear sunglasses at all.
Vision Council’s 2014 Sun Protection Survey reports that almost 30% of adults don’t always wear sunglasses. Why? Dr. Lee suspects that it’s less about vanity and more because people either don’t have a pair of sunglasses, or the sunglasses that they do have are broken. He also advises that if you do have sunglasses they should protect against UV rays.
Polarized lenses are probably the best lenses for protecting your eyes from UV rays. Like most sunglasses, polarized lenses reduce glare from the sun which makes it easier to see, but they are also available in different color tints which can help clarity of vision in different settings. Polarized lenses can (and should) be replaced every couple of years to ensure they are still protecting your eyes.