We often get asked if sunglasses are good or bad for the eyes. Some people seem to think that it’s better for the resilience of the eye tissue to not wear sunglasses and “build up” some sort of resistance to UV light rays. The truth is that UV rays cause significant damage to the eye tissues over the many years of exposure we get if we are not wearing sunglasses. A good pair of sunglasses will perform two basic functions:
1. Reduce visible light glare to improve visual comfort when outdoors i.e. stop squinting!
2. Block 100% of damaging invisible UV rays.
UV radiation has been strongly implicated in the development of cataracts, macular degeneration, pterygium, and skin cancers around and on the eyes. Wearing sunglasses routinely for all outdoor activities will help prevent the development of these conditions. Starting young and getting your children to wear them is the best course of action, because just like sunburn any exposure has a cumulative effect for damage later in life. Some people feel uncomfortable wearing sunglasses; they feel they never feel quite right looking through them. In our practice we find that 99% of these people will have a significant prescription that if made into prescription sunglasses, solves the problem and results in “the best pair of sunnies I’ve ever worn”. In this case the darker lens has the effect of further dulling down the mildly reduced vision that not wearing a prescription causes. So in summary, everyone at every age should be wearing sunglasses for all outdoor activities.