We all know the importance of wearing sunscreen for our skin but our eyes also need protection. Extended exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to eye damage, including cataracts, macular degeneration, pingueculae and pterygia and photokeratitis that can cause temporary vision loss.
Recent research suggests the sun’s high-energy visible (HEV) radiation — also called “blue light” — also may increase your long-term risk of macular degeneration. People with low blood plasma levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants especially appear at risk of retinal damage from HEV radiation.
To best protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV and HEV rays, always wear good quality sunglasses when you are outdoors. Look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays and that also absorb most HEV rays.
To protect as much of the delicate skin around your eyes as possible, sunglasses with large lenses or a close-fitting wrap around style offer the best protection. 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 grey lens. But for HEV protection, color does matter. Most sunglass lenses that block a significant amount of blue light will be bronze, copper or reddish-brown.