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More than an Accessory

Nicole Klein, OD, FAAO, Optometrist at Eye Center at Southwest Health

Sunglasses are more than just an accessory to throw on during the upcoming bright sunny days. Research has shown that excessive ultraviolet (UV) exposure from the sun can accelerate conditions that affect your eyes, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and even dry eye or eye injuries. Wearing UV-blocking eyewear, like sunglasses, is the best way to protect your eyes against these preventable conditions.

Now that you know wearing sunglasses is essential, do you know what you should look for in a good pair of sunglasses? Your main priority when selecting your shades should be safety. Beyond UV protection, wearing sunglasses can act as a barrier to protect your eyes from sand, dust, or debris in the air.

With summer quickly approaching, there will be a significant increase in people wearing sunglasses. While everyone is more exposed to sunlight in the spring and summer months, good quality sunglasses are a year-round investment. Sunglasses with UV protection help shield your eyes from damaging ultraviolet rays. UV damage can cause both short and long-term effects on the eyes. Here are a few of the most common eye conditions worsened by UV exposure:

  • Cataracts: UV light causes premature aging/clouding of the lens in the eye and accelerates the formation of age-related cataracts.
  • Macular degeneration: prolonged exposure to UV rays can also accelerate the aging process of the light sensitive cells in the retina, causing waste produces to develop, and loss of central vision.
  • Dry eye: wind, air and UV light can cause the tears to evaporate more quickly from the eye. You can even get a sunburn on the eye called, photokeratitis.
  • Eye injuries: Wearing sunglasses not only protects the eyes from harmful rays but can block dust or debris from getting into the eyes and causing abrasions or a painful scratched eye. Sunglasses are especially important during sports and recreational outdoor activities.

Sunglasses block the harmful UV rays from damaging your eyes, but they also block the UV rays from damaging the delicate skin around your eyes. One of the most common areas for skin cancer is the eyelids. Sunglasses help improve the clarity of your vision by reducing squinting, eye strain, and excessive glare.

It is important to note that people of all ages should be wearing sunglasses, including children. A child’s eye is less mature than an adult’s, resulting in more UV radiation passing through and causing potential damage to the inside of the eye. Plus, wearing sunglasses can be fun! Don’t forget to wear your sunglasses and protect your eyes!

The Eye Center at Southwest Health has a great selection of prescription and non-prescription eyewear and sunglasses for you to choose from. If you’re looking for expert advice when picking out your next pair of sunglasses, check out the Eye Center at Southwest Health. Platteville has two convenient Eye Center locations at our main campus on Eastside Road and McGregor Plaza and two other convenient locations in Darlington and Lancaster, ready to help you protect your eyes this summer.