The Patient's Guide to Over The Counter Sunglasses5:25 PM
When you are buying over-the-counter sunglasses, it can be hard to know how much protection you are really going to get from wearing them. The truth is, not all sunglasses available for purchase really meet the standards required to protect you from diseases like macular degeneration or cancers, or painful conditions like photokeratitis (a sunburn of the eye). Here's what you need to know before swiping your credit card:
- Know Your UV Coverage
A sticker like this verifies 100% UV Blocking, so make sure your OTC
sunglasses have this sticker too!
- Darker Doesn't Mean More Protection
Tint on sunglasses is not the same thing as UV protection. This is a common misconception -- I have even heard other doctors make this same mistake. Here's an example -- Transitions or photogray lenses change from clear to dark when you step outside due to the UV exposure reacting with chemical polymers in the lens. People routinely find that Transitions or photogray technology does not darken to the same extent as regular sunglasses, but they are still 100% UV blocking! There is other research suggesting that darker sunglasses without UV protection inherent in the lens may actually be MORE harmful than lighter sunglasses without UV protection. Why? In darker conditions, your pupil is larger and thus lets more harmful UV radiation penetrate inside the eye!
- Polarized Sunglasses Aren't Healthier for the Eyes
|Polarized just means added glare filtration;|
nothing to do with UV light penetration
- Kids Are More At Risk for Sun Damage than Adults!!
When we think of cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancers, we think of these issues affecting the elderly. While it is true that in elderly people these conditions are much more prevalent, the latest science is showing us that the damage from UV radiation sparking these conditions is occurring when we are children! As we age, our eye develops protection from UV light in the form of thickening of the lens (a structure that focuses light to the internal retinal photoreceptors). In children, the lens is very thin and very clear, allowing as much as 70% of the atmospheric UV light to penetrate into the eye. It is a lifetime of UV radiation that causes cancers and diseases like macular degeneration, so to protect yourself you have to start young.
- Prescription Sunglasses Are Affordable Too