Healthy eyes in the summertime
While a smart pair of sunglasses might be the best way to complete a summer ensemble, it’s important to remember just why you put on those shades in the first place. A recent study about exposure to UV rays from the American Optometric Association sheds some light on the preventative benefits from the favorite summer accessory.
Only one third of respondents in the study said UV protection was their number-one priority when purchasing sunglasses. Not just in summer but all year round, the sun emits UV-A and UV-B rays that can be damaging to the skin and the eyes. Sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection can shield against harm, but those who choose not to wear sunglasses or those who buy a pair just for fashion’s sake may be damaging their eyes.
Optometrist Paul Harvey of Aberle Eye Care, said many people are unaware of the damage that UV rays can cause to their eyes.
“I think that most people are unaware of the damages of UV when it comes to the eyes versus the skin,” he said. “Obviously you get a sunburn. You don’t really get an eye burn unless you stare at the sun, but those are rare cases.”
UV exposure to eyes can cause cataract formation and macular degeneration, Harvey said.
Thirty-five percent of adults in the study weren’t aware of the health risks to the eyes associated with overexposure to the sun without proper protection. Other risks can include skin cancer, and abnormal growths on the eyes or eyelids, which can cause anything from blurred vision to temporary sight loss to blindness.
When purchasing sunglasses, lenses that are polarized have added benefits. Not only do they reduce glare, but they actually can sharpen contrast and improve vision. “I’m a big proponent of polarization,” Harvey said. “It reduces glare essentially off of snow and water, reflections off of cars, chrome and glass, and good quality polarized lens, under certain conditions, will actually enhance contrast or visibility. You’ll see better.”
And just because frames are dark doesn’t mean they offer better protection. “Darkness isn’t necessarily a big factor,” he said, “because a brown polarized lens doesn’t seem that dark, you can see the patient’s eyes behind it, but it’s still superior to any type of lens that’s not polarized.”
Sunglasses, or protective contact lenses, should block out 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation, and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
Phelps resident Paul Smith, a heating and cooling contractor, said he purchases sunglasses based on comfort. “I buy quality sunglasses, so I assume they’ve got good UV protection,” he said.
Most consumers who purchase sunglasses might not know how much UV protection their lenses offer.
But they can find out by heading to their local optometrist, who can test the amount of protection.
For those who wear glasses on a daily basis to help their vision, one option for sun protection is photochromic lenses. These lenses can darken or lighten depending on the amount of available light — for example, stepping outside from a dark room to a bright afternoon.
Katie Panara, 17, works at Canandaigua, N.Y., Sailboarding where they sell popular sunglasses brands such as Oakley. Many customers, she said, are concerned about style.
“Most customers who come in here try on different pairs to see what looks the best,” she said., “and a lot of people come in here asking for polarized.”
Panara says she knows she doesn’t wear sunglasses as often as she needs to, maybe every other day in the summertime. “In the winter, I don’t ever wear them, which is bad,” she said.
And she’s not alone in that. The study said 42 percent of respondents do not wear sunglasses in the winter.
The best way to monitor eye health and maintain good vision, according to the American Optometric Association, is to have periodic eye exams with an optometrist. Adults under 60 are recommended to have an annual eye exam every two years, annually for those over 60.
Article Source: Messenger Post by By Melissa Daniels
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