Summer has come early this year in Oregon – which means it’s more important than ever to find the right pair of shades to protect your eyes from the sun!

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Understanding sunglasses and your eye health

Many of us have a natural instinct to reach for our sunglasses while driving or playing a sport. But eye-health experts, including our own doctors at Oregon Eye Specialists, urge us to take this commitment even further. Health professionals recommend that people wear sunglasses every day, including when it’s cloudy outside (that’s right – we Oregonians aren’t exempt during those dreary 200 days of the year).

This post covers 3 important reasons to invest in proper sunglasses, as well as helpful tips for selecting the right pair of shades.

“It is so important to protect the ‘naked’ eyes from the harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses,” stresses Oregon Eye Specialists ophthalmologist Dr. Kelly Chung. “Most of us understand how important it is to wear sunscreen, but you can’t put sunscreen on your eyeballs!”

Why the worry?

The truth is, sunglasses are much more than a tool for improved visibility and style in the summer months – they play a crucial role in protecting our eye health. Sun exposure puts us at risk for a variety of eye conditions and eyesight problems. Need a list of reasons to find and wear the right pair of sunglasses that protect your eyes from harmful UV rays? We just so happen to have one at hand, so read on.

3 reasons to invest in proper sunglasses

  1. Avoid painful sunburns – When your eyes are exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period of time, you’re likely to experience an effect called photokeratitis. In addition to being difficult to pronounce, this “sunburn of the eye” is painful and often includes uncomfortable symptoms like extreme sensitivity to light, excessive tearing and a gritty sensation in the eyes. Needless to say, photokeratitis is not fun and can easily be avoided with proper eye protection.
  2. Keep age-related eye conditions at bayCataracts, a cloudiness of the lenses inside the eyes, are a major cause of visual impairment and blindness worldwide. While cataracts develop over a long period of time, research has shown that exposure to UV rays can put you at risk for this condition. Similarly, scientists have tied exposure to UV rays to the onset of macular degeneration – a common eye condition that causes damage to the retina and leads to vision loss, usually in people 50 and older. Don’t take chances with your vision, be proactive and protect those eyes from harmful UV rays!
  3. Reduce your risk of cancer – What if we were to tell you that 5-10% of all skin cancers occur on the eyelids? The delicate skin surrounding the eye is much thinner compared to the rest of the face, making protection through proper eye wear even more important. In addition to UV-blocking power, the size and shape of your sunglasses both matter when it comes to reducing your risk of skin cancer. Be sure to speak with a professional about which style of sunglasses work best with your face shape as well as your prescription.

Concerned that you may be at risk for, or are already experiencing symptoms related to UV exposure? Now’s the time to take action. Schedule an appointment with your local eye clinic and get on the road to eye health.

How to find the right sunglasses to protect your eyes

You should know that the type of sunglasses you wear have as much impact on your eye health as the simple act of wearing them. Dr. Chung provides a few tips to help guide your decision about sunglasses:

  • “Make sure your sunglasses are rated to block 99-100% of UV A and UV B radiation.”
    Not all lenses are created equal. It’s important to find a pair of sunglasses that are designed to provide full protection against all ultraviolet light.
  • “Consider polarized lenses for time spent on the water or in the snow.”
    Polarized lenses reduce glare by filtering out the sunlight that bounces off reflective surfaces. Be aware that polarization has nothing to do with UV protection – so be sure to double check the UV ratings before purchasing a pair of polarized lenses.
  • “For maximum protection, make sure your sunglasses are the right size and fit well.”
    The right pair of sunglasses will fit comfortably over your ears and should not slip down the bridge of your nose. Larger lenses cover a wider area of skin, decreasing the opportunity for UV penetration.

Ready to find the perfect pair of sunglasses?

Here at Oregon Eye Specialists, our doctors and retail staff are expertly equipped to help you protect yourself from the sun. We have 8 clinic locations connected to a Sight Shop for all of your glasses needs. This next-door service allows each Sight Shop optician to work directly with your doctor to fully understand how to best shield your eyes and to show you the best products available.

If protecting your eyes weren’t a good enough reason to invest in new shades, you can save 40% on sunglass frames and 20% on sunglass lenses when you buy during our Annual Sunglass Sale.

The team at Oregon Eye Specialists is ready to help you commit to sunglasses that work for you!

Visit one of our 8 conveniently located Sight Shops today to get started.

About the Expert

Dr. Kelly Chung is experienced in complex cataract surgery and advanced lens implant technology, including multifocal, toric and Crystalens intraocular lens implants. For 14 years, Dr. Chung was lead cataract surgeon and director of comprehensive ophthalmology at Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Learn more about Dr. Kelly Chung »