The risk of damage to our eyes and skin from solar UV radiation is cumulative, meaning the danger continues to grow as we spend time in the sun throughout our lifetime To best protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV and HEV rays, always wear good quality sunglasses when you are outdoors. Depending on your outdoor lifestyle, you also may want to explore performance sunglasses or sport sunglasses. The amount of UV protection sunglasses provide is unrelated to the color and darkness of the lenses. A light amber-colored lens can provide the same UV protection as a dark gray lens. Your optician can verify that the lenses you choose provide 100 percent UV protection.
Many misconceptions exist about the right sun protection for your eyes. Keep these tips in mind:
Not all sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays. If you're unsure about the level of UV protection your sunglasses provide, take them to your eye doctor or optician for an evaluation. Many eye care professionals have instruments such as spectrophotometers that can measure the amount of visible light and UV radiation your lenses block.
Almost all sunglasses block a portion of HEV rays, but some tints block more blue light than others. Blue-blocking sunglass lenses usually are bronze, copper or reddish-brown in color.
Remember to wear sunglasses even when you're in the shade. Although shade reduces your UV and HEV exposure to some degree, your eyes still will be exposed to UV rays reflected from buildings, roadways and other surfaces.
Sunglasses are important especially in winter, because fresh snow can reflect 80 percent of UV rays, nearly doubling your overall exposure to solar UV radiation. If you ski or snowboard, choosing the right ski goggles is essential for adequate UV protection on the slopes.
Even if your contact lenses block UV rays, you still need sunglasses. UV-blocking contacts shield only the part of your eye under the lens. UV rays still can damage your conjunctiva and other tissues not covered by the lens. Wearing sunglasses protects these delicate tissues and the skin around your eyes from UV damage.
If you have dark skin and eyes, you still need to wear sunglasses. Although your dark skin may give you a lower risk of skin cancer from UV radiation, your risk of eye damage from UV and HEV rays is the same as that of someone with fair skin.
You need not fear the outdoors and sunny days, as long as you are equipped with the right eye and skin protection to reduce your UV exposure.
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