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We have all been waiting for sunny days for a long time – being able to be outdoors, enjoying sandy beaches, warm waters and beautiful weather is a definite treat. And as we religiously use sunscreen to protect the skin, it is a good idea to check out what sunglasses are doing to protect our eyes. The same harmful rays that can damage skin also increase the risk of developing eye problem – especially for children. Spending long hours on the beach (or in the snow for that matter) without proper eye protection can lead to photokeratitis – reversible sunburn of the cornea. And this condition can lead to the development of cataracts. We all know that when sunlight reflect of water (or snow), the exposure to ultraviolet radiation greatly increases, so paying close attention to protecting our eyes is definitely a good idea.
Here is what you should look for when choosing sunglasses – for yourself and for your children:
- The lenses should block UV radiation, both – the UVA and UVB rays. And you shouldn’t assume that you will get more UV protection with pricier sunglasses or with darker tint. Check the label – you will be looking for 99 – 100 % UV protection. If you are not sure, check with an eye professional.
- The sunglasses should be dark enough to reduce glare, but not too dark so that they distort colours and affect recognition of different objects. This could present another danger for you and your children. The best lenses are neutral grey, amber, brown or green.
- If you wear contact lenses that claim to also UV protection, stay safe and wear sunglasses anyway.
- Do not choose toy sunglasses for your child – they do not indicate UV protection. Polycarbonate lenses are generally recommended for children, because they are the most shatter-resistant.
- If you have small children, remember that even if you give them sunglasses with 100 UV protection, sunrays will still enter from the sides – best thing to do is to also have your child wear a hat with at least a 3 inch brim. That will block sunrays coming from overhead.
- If your child is involved in sports, remember that even if the sunglasses you give him or her are shatterproof and comply with impact-resistant requirements, it doesn’t mean they will withstand more than a moderate impact. No sunglasses can be considered to function as a protective eyewear.
If you are interested in finding out details about non-prescription sunglasses, here is a good document for you to read: