Sunglasses are usually thought of as just a fashion accessory, but in fact, sunglasses are far more than this. Yes, they do come in a range of styles, sizes and colours and, of course, many come with designer price tags, but they do fulfill another important role - that of protection from the sun. The eyes are an extremely delicate part of the body. They can become easily damaged when hit or poked or exposed continuously to the sun. Although you may not realise it, the sun constantly emits UV rays whether it's sunny or cloudy that can do enormous damage if not protected against. We all know of the dangers of skin cancers caused by the sun, but how many consider the dangers to the eyes?
It is not direct sunlight itself that presents the danger, it is in fact, reflection from the objects around. Light, sand and snow, in particular, can reflect up to 85% of UV rays into the eyes. The eyebrow works as a shield when directly facing the sign and a hat can also protect the eyes to a degree, but when you add reflected light into the equation, the protection is simply not enough. Good sunglasses are absolutely crucial during the summer and when near water or snow.
There are three types of UV radiation - UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is absorbed the Earth itself so pose no threat to the health of our eyes. The same cannot be said for UVA and UVB however. UVB rays are absorbed by the eye and although do not travel as far as the retina located at the back of the eye, can affect the lens which can, in turn, cause or speed up the development of cataracts. UVA rays despite being absorbed in lesser qualities can penetrate the retina, and it is this that can cause macular degeneration. This is a very serious condition that if left untreated can cause blindness.
Although there is treatment available for these conditions in the form of laser eye surgery, prevention is always better than cure. Investing in a good pair of sunglasses is the best course of action you can take today to protect your eyes tomorrow. It is imperative that you purchase glasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays and be aware that just because a pair of glasses does say this on the label, it is not necessarily true. Cheap glasses, in particular, are unlikely to provide the adequate protection you need to shield your eyes from the sun. If you are unsure on what to buy then talk to an optician who will be able to advise you on what you need and where to purchase the right kind of glasses.
Further to wearing sunglasses (and a hat can't hurt either), you should eat plenty of green vegetables which also help your eyes stay strong. If you stare at a computer screen all week then some simple eye exercise should also be carried out every now and again. These can be as simple as covering one eye, then the other, or pretending there is a clock on the wall in front and looking at 12, 3, 6, and 9 in both directions.
The news is not all bad however when it comes to eye health. Laser eye surgery provides an excellent treatment to a host of conditions. When doctors are considering the options to help restore a person's sight, a refractive lens exchange is one form of procedure that may be required, as is macular degeneration treatment. Protecting your health now will pay dividends later, but if you are suffering from a condition of the eye then there is help available.