While many people focus on seeing a doctor and dentist regularly for annual physical exams and deep cleanings, many people neglect regular visits to the eye doctor unless a problem arises. Annual eye exams are necessary to maintain ocular health and detect potential changes and issues at the earliest point, even before any visual changes occur. This will allow your optometrist to treat potential concerns early. To protect and preserve your ocular health includes more than just regular eye exams, it also includes quality eyewear or contact lenses and ensuring quality sun wear, such as polarized sunglasses.

Happy girl and her boyfriend in hats and sunglasses looking at camera

Did you know…

While many people understand the risk that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun poses to skin, it is not as common to understand that UV harms the eyes as well. In addition to making a fashion statement, sunglasses also protect the eyes from UV and High-Energy Visible (HEV) radiation. Over time, this radiation can accumulate and deteriorate parts of the eye such as the conjunctiva, retina and the macula. This damage could lead to vision changes. People should take steps to protect their eyes with sunglasses.

Frequently Asked Questions

What vision problems can sunglasses help prevent?

One of the most common factors in the erosion of our eye health are cataracts.  This is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the pupil. By wearing sunglasses, people will protect their eyes and slow the development of cataracts. Another common vision problem is called macular degeneration. This condition is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Macular degeneration is caused by damage to the retina often due to excessive UV and HEV radiation exposure. Another common condition is a pinguecula, or yellowish elevation of the white part of your eye. If it is constantly exposed to the sun, can progress to a pterygium which can have visual consequences. By wearing sunglasses, everyone can help preserve their macula, their retina, and their vision.

What are ultraviolet rays?

Ultraviolet, or UV rays, are emitted from the sun and are classified by wavelength. UV rays have a slightly shorter wavelength than the rays of light that define the color violet. These are rays that are slightly shorter than the color spectrum of human eyes. Short wavelength also means the rays have a high energy and therefore can damage the eyes with this energy.  Sunlight is absorbed or reflected in many directions. Polarized sunglasses offer protection from this interference.

What kind of sunglasses should be worn to protect the eyes from UV radiation?

Normal sunglasses provide basic protection against both vertical and horizontal UV rays.  When looking to purchase sunglasses, it is vital that people read the information on the sunglasses to make sure the accessories provide the type of protection they’re looking for. Read the labels and packaging to make sure that the sunglasses block 99% of both UVA and UVB radiation. These are the two types of UV radiation that can cause severe damage to the eyes. They don’t, however, diminish the glare from reflected horizontal rays like polarized sunglasses.  While there are many options for sunglasses on the market, it is important to read the labels and make sure the investment in the fashion statement doubles as an investment in vision protection. At New Optix Optometry, we have complimentary assessments of the how much UV your sunglasses block.

Do I need Polarized Sunglasses?

Yes. Polarized glasses have a built-in filter that permits only vertical light rays to pass through, and almost totally blocks horizontal rays to eliminate glare. This is most noticeable when on water, such as at the pool, lake or ocean or surrounded by large amounts of concrete, such as in cities. It is also very noticeable on roads where there is heavy traffic. A high-quality pair of prescription or non-prescription polarized sunglasses offer many advantages over non-polarized sunglasses.

For example, you may notice fewer reflections, reduced glare, and a more accurate perception of color. That is because polarized sunglasses can enhance clarity of vision and contrast for ground-level objects and for seeing into the water. You may also notice improved visual comfort due to reduced eye strain. Frequent adjustments to glare from reflections are taxing on the eyes and can lead to eye fatigue. Since your eyes aren’t constantly challenged by glare, it is easier to view objects in bright conditions. Talk to your New Optix Optometry eye doctor for more information.