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Sun-Sational Sunglas

Summer is upon us (finally!) and that means being outside a lot more. Swimming, hiking, parks, beaches, riding bikes, fishing the list goes on. Being outside this much means we are exposing ourselves to more sunshine, and with sunshine comes UV rays!


Now, I would like to take a moment and talk about UV rays. Most people wouldn’t think twice about UV rays, they come from the sun and make you tan, win-win right?  WRONG! Although some UV rays are good for us, some can cause a lot of damage. Skin cancer being the first thing we all think about when we think damaging UV rays, but no one ever thinks about their eyes. Yes, you SAW that right (see what I did there) your eyes can be damaged by the sun just like your skin.


According to The Vision Council, only 31% of Americans protect their eyes with sunglasses every time they go outside. 34% have experienced symptoms of prolonged UV exposure, such as eye irritation, trouble seeing, and red or swollen eyes. I know that doesn’t sound THAT bad…but there can be long term damage if you don’t have daily eye protection, things like sunburned eyes. Yup, that can happen and it isn’t comfortable or pretty. Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration are also a few long term outcomes of not taking care of your eyes.


You might be saying to yourself, “I have sunglasses so I should be good.” Wrong again. You see, sunglasses that are not polarized and do not have UV protection on the lens are a good as decaf coffee. It looks good, but you’re still tired after a cup. Seriously people, why decaf? I don’t understand.


A regular pair of sunglasses might help tone down the brightness of the sun but it doesn’t actually protect your eyes. When you are in a darker light your pupils get bigger to let more light in. When you put on your sunglasses and things get darker, your eyes dilate and essentially let more UV rays in. Now, if your sunglasses have UV protection, the lens will bounce those rays away from your eyes! So dilated or not, your eyes are being protected from those harmful UV rays.


I know what you’re thinking… “But Kelsey, where do I get sunglasses like this?!” Well reader, I am so glad you asked. Whether you like big and blingy, practical, sporty, or the classic aviator style, your local eye doctor can put a lens with UV protection in that style. In fact, if you wear prescription glasses you can get UV protection in those too! Crazy I know. My point is, decreasing your chance of developing cataracts or age-related macular degeneration or even making sure your eyes aren’t irritated, is 100% worth talking with your eye doctor. And just in time for national sunglasses day, which is June 27th!


Next time you are in the area, don’t hesitate to stop in to look at some styles and learn more about UV protection. Now go enjoy summer, but don’t forget your sunglasses. ;)


-Kelsey, Optician

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