Summertime brings lots of opportunities for outdoor activities, from family barbeques to relaxing on the beach. While most Floridians remember how important it is to wear sunscreen, few consider how important it is to protect their eyes from the same harmful UV radiation. Unfortunately, ultraviolet exposure has been shown to damage multiple ocular tissues, including those that compose the cornea and the lens.
How UV Light Harms the Eyes
Excessive exposure to UV light from the sun raises people’s risk of developing eye diseases and other issues. It can increase the risk of developing:
- Macular degeneration
- Eye cancers
- Ocular sunburns
- Pterygium, or growths on the eye
- Photokeratitis, sometimes referred to as snow blindness even though it can also develop as a result of UV light reflecting off of sand or water
- Dry Eyes
Avoiding the sun entirely isn’t a great solution. Healthy exposure to sunlight and time spent outdoors help to regulate circadian rhythms, increases levels of vitamin D, and can even help to prevent nearsightedness, especially in children.
How UV-Protected Polarized Lenses Can Help
Polarized lenses help to reduce eye strain and protect sensitive corneas and lenses from damaging UV rays. These lenses go beyond those found in traditional sunglasses. They’re treated with a special chemical that blocks some light from passing through.
When people wear polarized lenses, only the light rays that approach their eyes vertically can get through. The lenses block out horizontal light waves, which can be especially beneficial when it comes to reducing glare from shiny surfaces like ponds, sand, and even car hoods.
The best part is, any pair of glasses can be fitted with polarized lenses. They’re just as effective in discount frames as they are in brand-name glasses from companies like Gucci, Prada, and Tiffany & Co. All glasses wearers need to do is tell their optometrists that they are interested in adding UV protection to their lenses.
The Benefits of Polarized Lenses
The benefits of polarized lenses with UV protection extend beyond protecting the eyes from the sun. They can also reduce glare and make it easier to see clearly on sunny days. Objects will look clearer, crisper, and more detailed, and most people who wear polarized glasses report feeling less tired after long summer days spent outside.
It’s relevant to note here that not all polarized lenses provide UV protection, and not all UV-protected glasses are polarized. Those who want to maximize their enjoyment this summer while simultaneously offering their eyes optimal levels of protection against not just UV damage, but also glare and eye fatigue, should opt for both polarization and UV protection coatings.
How to Tell if Sunglasses Are Polarized
The best way to tell if a pair of prescription or non-prescription sunglasses is polarized is to buy them from a reputable optometrist like those employed by 20/20 Eyeglasses. To evaluate whether an existing pair of sunglasses has polarized lenses, try taking a look at a reflective surface both with and without wearing the glasses. Since polarized lenses reduce glare and increase contrast, it should be easier to see the surface with the glasses on.
There’s another way to check if lenses are polarized: just glance at an LCD screen. Polarization makes it more difficult to see LCD screens, in particular. It will look darker than usual.
When to Wear Polarized Glasses
So far, this article has focused primarily on why polarized sunglasses are so essential during the summer months. This begs the question, what about the rest of the year? After all, here in Florida, people spend time outdoors in all seasons.
UV radiation isn’t just present when the sun is high in the sky. Even in the winter, it’s important to protect the eyes from those damaging rays. Find sunglasses that block both UV radiation and glare and wear them year-round, along with sunblock and a wide-brimmed hat, for maximum protection. Even one day of excessive UV exposure can cost lasting damage to the cornea and ocular lenses, so it’s not worth the risk of leaving home without protection.
Alternatives to Polarized Lenses
Polarized lenses are great for any situation that requires spending time outside. That said, some people can’t wear them at work because they can make it difficult to see some types of screens. It’s worth buying a second pair of glasses with anti-reflective coating or investing in photochromic lenses that darken automatically when wearers head outside. Just don’t assume they’ll replace the need for polarized glasses for outdoor use.
Tips for Choosing the Right Polarized Sunglasses
It’s never wise to buy cheap sunglasses from convenience stores. Instead, people who are concerned about their ocular health should go to an optometrist, even if they don’t need prescription lenses. Here are a few tips for choosing and using the right sunglasses that will help:
- Choose sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection.
- Wear the sunglasses even in the shade to avoid damage from reflected UV rays.
- Buy a pair of polarized sunglasses to wear over UV-blocking contact lenses. The UV rays can still damage the parts of the eye not covered by the lenses.
- Don’t assume having dark eyes or skin will protect against UV radiation.
- Start wearing sunglasses in childhood. Children are even more susceptible to eye damage from UV rays than adults because their lenses are clearer.
- Schedule an eye exam at least once a year, even with 20/20 vision, to look for signs of ocular damage or diseases.
Remember, not all sunglasses are created equal. Some provide minimal protection against glare, and most discount options from non-specialized stores do not block 100% of UV light. It’s always best to buy high-quality sunglasses with polarized lenses from a reputable glasses store that also offers routine eye exams.
Eye Protection Floridians Can Trust
Looking for new prescription glasses or sunglasses in Central Florida? 20/20 Eyeglass Superstore has something for everyone. These expert opticians offer an incredible variety of brand-name and discount frames, all of which can be fitted with polarized lenses for maximum protection. Browse the website to learn more about their products and services, check out some testimonials from satisfied customers. and schedule an appointment at one of their three convenient locations online today.