Are Your Sunglasses Making You Susceptible To Cataracts?

Dr. Mai-Vy Hoang 05/08/2017

woman-sunglasses-hat-eye-care.jpgWe all know about the importance of protecting ourselves from the sun. Sun damage is most often associated with the skin, but you should also protect your eyes from the sun's harsh rays.

Because sunglasses protect your eyes from UV light, many people believe they completely prevent cataracts. However, this might not be the case.

What Are Cataracts?

The Mayo Clinic describes a cataract as a cloudiness on the lens of the eye that can cause foggy vision and difficulty seeing. Cataracts tend to develop with age but can be escalated by some factors. Exposure to UV light can contribute to cataracts forming or worsening.

While most people assume wearing sunglasses is enough, that assumption might be putting you at risk of developing cataracts. Here's why:

You May Not Be Wearing Sunglasses Often Enough

How often do you reach for a pair of sunglasses before leaving the house? It probably isn't as often as you should be. In fact, experts recommend wearing sunglasses any time you're outdoors, especially in these conditions:

  • -When visiting the beach or any body of water
  • -During the summer months when the sun's rays cause radiation at a much higher level
  • -When engaging in winter sports, especially at high altitudes
  • -If you're taking any medications that make you more sensitive to light

man-adjusting-sunglasses-outdoors-eyes.jpgYou May Not Be Choosing the Right Sunglasses

You know you need sunglasses, but there are many options to choose from. They won't all protect your eyes in the same way, so it's important to know what you're looking for. Use these tips to choose the right pair of glasses to protect against sun damage that can lead to cataracts.

  • -Pay attention to UV protection. Look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays.
  • -Don't worry about the darkness or color of lenses. The color doesn't matter, as long as the lenses block all UV rays.
  • -Go big. Larger lenses cover more area, which means offering more protection.

  • If you're playing sports, look for wraparound glasses. They'll stay in place and offer protection from all sides.

  • Higher priced doesn't necessarily mean better. Look for quality and UV protection, not a designer name or a high price tag.
  • Polarized lenses don't offer more protection from the sun. However, they do reduce glare.

You May Be Relying Too Heavily on Sunglasses

Sunglasses can help to protect your eyes from sun damage, but they won't make you immune to the effects of UV rays. There are some situations when sunglasses can't stop UV light from damaging the eye, including:

  • -Using a tanning bed
  • -Looking directly into the sun
  • -Exposure to bright, blinding snow

Sunglasses are a great way to reduce your exposure to the sun's UV rays. Be sure to choose the right pair and wear them anytime you're outdoors to cut down on your risk of developing cataracts.

Want to learn more about cataracts? Download our free infographic below.

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