Most people are aware of why you need to wear sunscreen even on cloudy days, as the sun is so powerful its rays can penetrate through thick clouds. So why is it that the sunglasses are thrown on only on bright summer days or for fashion statements?

Sunglasses help to block damaging rays from entering your eye, the same way sunscreen works for your skin. UVA and UVB rays are harmful to your eyes and aid the process of cataract development, which is the cloudiness in the lens of your eye that decreases your vision. It can also lead to other vision related problems such as blurriness and heightened sensitivity to light. Cataracts grow naturally, however, they come with old age. Not protecting your eyes can lead to more advanced cataracts, or cataracts earlier on in life.

Not all sunglasses are the same. You might be picking the frame for its design or aesthetic, but the labels for the lenses are the most important. There is not one standard way of writing it, but generally you want to look for 99-100% UV protection or UV400 which shows that it blocks light at wavelengths of 400 nanometers, including UVA and UVB rays. Always look for some sort of indication, as even expensive and brand name sunglasses can have weak lenses.

Related Article: How to Protect Your Eyes in the Summer

Geography matters as well, with studies showing people living closer to the equator or in higher altitudes have more of a risk. Now just because you are far from the equator doesn’t mean the danger is gone, snow can reflect up to 80% of UV rays, as anyone living in snow covered area will know, it can get very bright in the morning. It is important to know how you can be affected to be able to protect yourself, and not many people realize that looking down at snow on a bright sunny day can damage your eyes. Children are also especially susceptible to eye damage, as their eyes are still developing into their twenties. Wearing sunglasses and hats is important in a young person’s life, as damage to their eyes can cause permanent damage and lifelong problems down the line.

The lesson? Make sure that you buy a decent pair of sunglasses, not just one that looks good but does a good job at blocking rays, and you wear them no matter the weather. Be it cloudy, snowy, or a nice summer day, a decent pair of sunglasses will not only protect your eyes for the future, but will also give you some confidence and style points!

New Optical Palace is your Optometrist serving the Kitchener and Waterloo Area. We offer eye exams and have a wide variety of prescription glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses.