What Happens When You Don't Wear Sunglasses?

What Happens When You Don't Wear Sunglasses?

Sunglasses aren't just a fashion statement. Wearing sunglasses on a regular basis is a simple way to protect your vision and avoid common eye diseases and conditions.

How the Sun Can Damage Your Eyes

Too much sun is just as bad for your eyes as it is for your skin. When you spend time in the sun without adequate protection, you may be more likely to develop a variety of eye issues, ranging from corneal "sunburns" to cataracts. Eye conditions associated with sun exposure include:

  • Photokeratitis: Photokeratitis occurs when your corneas are exposed to intense sunlight. The condition is particularly common if you spend the day on the beach or on the ski slopes, as both snow and sand intensify the effects of the sun. This sunburn-like condition can cause redness, blurred vision, tearing and sensitivity to light. You might also feel as if there's something stuck in your eyes. Photokeratitis generally only lasts about one or two days but can be very painful.
  • Pterygium: Pterygium, also known as "surfer's eye", can happen to anyone who spends long hours in the sun without wearing appropriate eye protection. The condition causes fleshy, raised bumps to appear on the whites of the eyes. If the condition isn't treated promptly, the growth can cover the cornea, affecting vision, or may even cause astigmatism. Mild cases are treated with medicated drops, while more serious growths may require surgery.
  • Macular Degeneration: Sun exposure may be a factor in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The condition causes a blind spot in the center of your vision and is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 and older, according to the National Eye Institute. Although there is currently no effective treatment for AMD, low vision aides can help you make the most of your usable vision.
  • Cataracts: The sun also plays a role in the formation of a cataract, or cloudy lens. The lens of your eye focuses light rays on your retina and is necessary for clear vision. When it clouds, you may experience blurry or faded vision, halos around lights, double vision, light sensitivity and difficulty driving at night. Cataracts are removed during outpatient surgery when they begin to affect the quality of your life.
  • Cancer: Cancer is another potential unpleasant consequence of sun exposure. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, can affect several parts of your eyes, including the eyelids, iris or choroid, a layer of tissue between the retina and sclera. Common treatments include radiation, thermotherapy, and surgery.

Things to Consider When Shopping for Sunglasses

Fortunately, it's easy to reduce your risk of developing sun-related eye conditions and diseases by wearing sunglasses every day. When you shop for sunglasses, keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Look for Glasses That Offer Maximum Protection. The most effective sunglasses block 99 percent of ultraviolet B (UVB) rays and 95 percent of ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, according to the American Optometric Association. Sunglasses don't have to be expensive to be effective. Both inexpensive and costly glasses can provide the same protection from UVA and UVB rays.
  • Choose Gray, Green or Amber Lenses for Better Vision. Although lens color doesn't have an impact on ultraviolet ray transmission, it can improve contrast, making it easier to see in sunny weather.
  • Choose Wraparound Styles. You may still experience eye damage if the sun's rays penetrate the sides or top of your sunglasses. Styles that wrap around your face offer the best protection.
  • Make Comfort a Priority. If your sunglasses are uncomfortable, they'll spend more time in their case than on your face. The most comfortable glasses may not necessarily be the most stylish, although manufacturers offer plenty of attractive frames in every price range.
  • Buy a Spare Pair. Sunglasses are one of the most common items collected by lost and found departments. In fact, more than 55 percent of adults lose or break their sunglasses every year, according to The Vision Council. Purchasing a backup pair will help you ensure that you're always protected.

Whether you're concerned about an eye condition, need prescription sunglasses or are due for an exam, we're committed to helping you maintain your vision. Contact us to schedule your next appointment.

Sources:

National Eye Institute: Keep Your Eyes Healthy: Wear Sunglasses

https://nei.nih.gov/hvm/healthy_eyes_glasses

American Optometric Association: Overlooking the Importance of UV Protection: Only 40 Percent of Americans Wear Sunglasses to Safeguard Vision, 5/20/13

https://www.aoa.org/newsroom/uv-overlooking-the-importance-of-uv-protection

American Academy of Ophthalmology: How to choose the Best Sunglasses, 5/1/15

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/top-sunglasses-tips

Skin Cancer Foundation: How Sunlight Damages the Eyes, 12/7/12

https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/for-your-eyes/how-sunlight-damages-the-eyes

National Eye Institute: Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration, 9/15

https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts

The Vision Council: For Millions of Americans, Missing Sunglasses Mean Harmful Exposure to UV, 5/15/12

https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/blog/millions-americans-missing-sunglasses-means-harmful-exposure-uv

Sign up now

New Patients receive 15% OFF Second Pair of Complete Glasses!

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

  • "Awesome doctor. Very professional, very personable, and very efficient. Sent my whole family to her and they all agree."
    Gina M. / Cranston, RI

Featured Articles

Read up on informative topics

  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    One of the leading causes of vision loss in people who are age 50 or older is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This common eye condition leads to damage of a small spot near the center of the retina called the macula. The macula provides us with the ability to clearly see objects that are straight ...

    Read More
  • Diabetic Eye Diseases

    Diabetes is a condition that involves high blood sugar (glucose) levels. This can affect many parts of the body, including the eyes. One of the most common diabetic eye diseases is diabetic retinopathy, which is also a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Diabetic Retinopathy Diabetic retinopathy ...

    Read More
  • Presbyopia

    Somewhere around the age of 40, most people’s eyes lose the ability to focus on close-up objects. This condition is called presbyopia. You may start holding reading material farther away, because it is blurry up close. Reading suddenly gives you eyestrain. You might wonder when manufacturers started ...

    Read More
  • Laser Cataract Surgery

    The only way to correct the clouded vision caused by advanced cataracts is surgical intervention. If you find yourself pursuing cataract surgery to remove one or both cataract-disease lenses, you may be wondering what surgical approaches are available for treatment. Although eye surgeons have successfully ...

    Read More
  • Cataract Surgery

    With cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist removes the cataract-diseased lens of your eye. The ophthalmologist then replaces your natural lens with an artificial one. The Procedure This outpatient procedure is generally safe and takes less than an hour. Your ophthalmologist will dilate your pupil ...

    Read More
  • Fuchs' Corneal Dystrophy

    Fuchs' dystrophy (pronounced fooks DIS-truh-fee) is an eye disease characterized by degenerative changes to the cornea’s innermost layer of cells. The cause for Fuchs' dystrophy is not fully understood. If your mother or father has the disease, then there is roughly a 50 percent chance that you will ...

    Read More
  • Peripheral Vision Loss

    Normal sight includes central vision (the field of view straight ahead) and peripheral vision (the field of view outside the circle of central vision). The inability to see within a normal range of view often indicates peripheral vision loss. In severe cases of peripheral vision loss, individuals only ...

    Read More
  • Presbyopia

    As we age, our eyes—like the rest of our bodies—begin to lose flexibility and strength. When this happens to the lens of the eye and its surrounding muscles, your lens will become stiff. This makes it harder to see close objects clearly because the eyes can't focus properly. It's a natural part of ...

    Read More
  • Patches

    Eye patches are used to strengthen muscle control in weak eyes. By placing a patch over the strong eye, the weaker eye is forced to do the heavy lifting. While it may be uncomfortable for the patient at first, the muscle controlling the weaker eye will become tougher and more resilient. This will allow ...

    Read More
  • How to Transition Into Different Lighted Situations

    Does it take a little while for your eyes to adjust to the dark? Try a few of these tips. ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles