Want to know one of the best ways to protect your eyes? Sporting a favorite pair of sunnies every single time you step outside. Here’s why.

Do you have a pair of shades that you love and wear on repeat, all year round? If not, time to pick up a pair or two, because not wearing sunglasses can cause serious eye damage. Even though we can’t see UV rays, they’re affecting our eye health and can damage the eye’s surface tissues, the cornea and lens, all the way back to the retina.

The truth is, sunlight is good for us and is necessary for our well-being. But there is such a thing as too much when it comes to those unhealthy UVA and UVB rays. Here are 10 facts about sun exposure that you should know.

Exposure to UV light over time puts you at risk for developing eye diseases.

From well-known eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts, to lesser-known conditions such as photokeratitis (sunburned eyes), pterygium and pinguecula (non-cancerous growths on the mucous membrane that covers your eye), spending time in the sun without adequate UV protection can lead to serious eye diseases.

Sunglasses should protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

When selecting a new pair of sunglasses, don’t simply go for style or the darkest lenses. Make sure your sunglasses provide 100% UV or UV400 protection, and that they indicate they block both UVA and UVB rays.

Wide-brimmed hats plus sunglasses offer the best protection.

Doubling up on protective wear is one of the best ways to guard against the sun’s harmful rays. Plus, doing so also protects your skin and looks stylish.

Children’s eyes can also be damaged by the sun’s rays.

Kids spend a great deal of time outside in areas where they are exposed to UV radiation from the sun. Think: the playground, beach, pool, and even the backyard. And while 74% of parents make their kids wear sunscreen, only 32% make them wear UV-protective sunglasses. Some eye damage won’t show up until much later in life, so start protecting your child’s eyes early on, and get them accustomed to wearing both sunglasses and hats.

Skin cancer can occur in the eye(s).

Ocular melanoma is a type of skin cancer that forms in or around the eye, and spending time in the sun or in tanning beds over long periods of time without adequate protection can increase your risk.

Sun protection is a must in the winter and on cloudy days.

You might not opt to sport your shades on cloudy or stormy days, when the sun doesn’t seem so bright. In fact, only 17% of people do! But reflected rays from the snow causes a double whammy in terms of UV exposure, and can cause a painful condition known as snow blindness. And even though clouds, haze and fog may seem to offer protection, they actually don’t block UV light.

Being at higher altitudes increases UV exposure.

The sun’s rays are more intense — and therefore more dangerous — as you increase in elevation. That’s because as you go up, the Earth’s atmosphere thins out. If you are hiking, camping, skiing, or doing other things that cause you to spend time at a higher altitude, make sure you’re protecting your eyes and your skin.

Wearing activity-specific eyewear is also a good idea.

Whether you’re having fun in the surf or the snow, look beyond your regular sunglasses. Select shades or goggles that wrap around and come with special lenses that will both optimize your vision and block the dangerous glare from water, ice, or snow.

Your eyes can heal from some types of sun damage.

Your eyes can recover from many eye conditions caused by either long- or short-term exposure to the sun — but not all. While prevention is the best medicine, there are some interventions for certain conditions. Photokeratitis will heal over time, like any sunburn, and surgery can be a safe option for removing pterygia and pingueculae, and even for cataracts.

Comprehensive eye exams are a must for protecting your eye health.

Because many eye diseases and conditions result after years of exposure to the sun, it’s important to have routine eye exams. This way, your eye doctor can keep tabs on every aspect of your eye health and keep a lookout for serious conditions.

We have many sunglasses styles for you to choose from, and you can even get prescription sunglasses. Pick up some new shades that will protect your eyes and that you’ll love to wear. Time for your next eye exam? Schedule today!

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