How Sunglasses Help
Sunglasses do more than up your cool factor—they can keep your peepers youthful looking by protecting them from UV damage, says Toronto optometrist Sunni Patel.
Just like your skin, prolonged exposure to UVA (the aging rays) and UVB (the burning rays) can cause great damage to your eyes. Here, Patel reveals the most common eye conditions you can get if you skip the shades.
UVA light is known to damage the back of the eye, as it is not fully absorbed by the front of the eye. This is a risk factor for macular degeneration, which is a severe form of vision loss and the leading cause of blindness around the world.
UVB affects the front of the eye, and can lead to clouding of the lens (cataracts). People living in very sunny climates tend to have an early and increased incidence of cataracts, which typically occur around age 60-75. Shade-slackers might get cataracts as early as 55.
Pterygium is characterized by abnormal growth on the whites of the eyes. It is common amongst surfers due to their increased exposure to UV rays—from reflected rays from the sea as well as long-term exposure on the beach. Not only is it a cosmetic problem, it can cause distortion in vision and dry eye.
Skin Cancer on Eyelids
Because eyelids are extremely thin, this area is more prone to premature signs of aging and the risk for skin cancers are greater.
Wrinkles and Spots
Sunglasses help prevent you from squinting, which can attribute to the formation of lines and wrinkles around the eye area. And UV exposure can age the eye skin and cause marks and discolouration.
More accurately, sunburn of the cornea (photo keratitis) can happen with prolonged exposure to sunlight. The symptoms are severe pain, red eye and temporary vision loss. It happened to Anderson Cooper when he spent two hours on a boat without sunglasses on.
Q: Are cheap sunglasses good enough?
A: Yes, but make sure has an oval sticker indicating it provides “100% UV protection.” In fact, a study done a few years ago in the UK found that the sunglasses sold at Poundland (a dollar store chain), offered equal if not superior UV protection compared to more expensive brands.
About the Expert Sunni Patel is a research fellow and clinical optometrist at Toronto Western Hospital.