When it comes to sunglasses, there are a number of details to take into consideration. For many people, it often starts and ends with aesthetics.
But at X-Wear, we know that sunglasses are much more than just a fashion statement. With the potential health impacts that can be caused due to exposure to the sun, sunglasses can provide real protection to our eyes.
Because we believe our vision is so important, X-Wear reached out to Dr. Richard Synkoski, an optometrist with 39 years of experience under his belt (38 of those in Worcester), to provide some insight on why it’s important to wear sunglasses year-round and what to look for when buying them.
In the short-term, Dr. Synkoski said that photokeratitis, a painful swelling of the eyes, leaving them bloodshot and sensitive to light can occur by not wearing sunglasses. Typically, that condition will usually dissipate within three days.
Long-term impacts are much more severe. UVA/UVB rays can cause pterygium which is a growth that develops on the membrane covering the white part of the eye. “It can distort your vision and require surgery,” Dr. Synkoski said.
Also of concern is cancer which Dr. Synkoski told us can form on the eyelid. “Also, we think melanoma, which is the most serious form of cancer of the eye is related to [prolonged] UV exposure,” he said.
The lens, which is the middle part of the eye, can develop cataracts from cumulative exposure to the sun.
And macular degeneration, an eye disease leading to vision loss, may also be linked to the sun’s harmful rays.
Treats Many Conditions Daily
Dr. Synkoski said he sees these conditions on a regular basis with his patients. Some are more common than others. “We see cataracts basically every day,” he said. “Pterygium is more common in the south where the UV is a higher intensity. And macular degeneration is definitely on the increase. Whether it’s because people are living longer now or because of exposure to the sun, the jury is still out.”
As for his recommendations, they were simple:
- Look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of UVA/UVB rays.
- Look for sunglasses that block up to 80 to 90 percent of visible light.
- Make sure the tints for both lenses match.
- Copper and brown-colored lens absorb more of the blue light end of the spectrum which is smaller wavelengths, higher energy. Blue light could potentially cause damage to the back of the eye where the retina is located.
- Buy sunglasses for your child. “They are more important for children than adults,” Dr. Synkoski said. “Lots of studies show that 20 to 50 percent of our UV exposure occurs before the age of 16.”
- Wear sunglasses year-round. Dr. Synkoski told us that it’s more important to wear them in the winter, especially when the sun’s rays reflect off the snow. When that happens, UV exposure to our eyes can increase up to 50 percent. It’s the same risk as walking on a white sand beach without sunglasses.
- For more information, Dr. Synkoski recommended visiting allaboutvision.com or the American Optometric Association’s website at www.aoa.org.
With these potential health impacts in mind, we invite you to browse our selection of sunglasses and find the best pair that suits not only your style, but protects your eyes.