We all know the importance of using sunscreen to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays, but what about our eyes? In honor of UV Safety Month, celebrated throughout the month of May, Eye M.D.s across the nation are urging Americans to protect their eyes and those of their children by wearing sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats.

“Recent studies have shown that prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays without protection may cause eye conditions that can lead to vision loss, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration,” advise the ophthalmologists of Ophthalmology Consultants of Fort Wayne, P.C. “The more exposure to bright light, the greater the chances of developing these serious eye problems.”

Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat is the best defense system for your eyes. To be effective, both must be worn every time you’re outside for prolonged periods of time, even when it’s overcast. But what type of sunglasses should you buy? “The most important thing is to purchase sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.” Advise the physicians of Ophthalmology Consultants of Fort Wayne, P.C. “Don’t be misled by the color of the lens or the price tag dangling from the frame.”

The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of the lens. UV protection comes from a chemical coating applied to the lens surface. And as for the cost, many $10 sunglasses provide equal or greater protection than a $100 pair. With expensive sunglasses, you’re paying for style, frame quality and options such as scratch-resistant coatings, not protective ability.

In addition to the damage caused by repeated sun exposure overtime, you need to protect your eyes from acute damage caused by a single day in the sun. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light reflected off sand, snow, or pavement could burn the eye’s surface. Similar to sunburns, eye surface burns usually disappear within a couple of days, but may lead to further complications later in life so protect your eyes. Have fun in the sun this summer, but do remember to protect your eyes!

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