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Top 5 Ways to Protect Eyes from the Sun

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Updated November 13, 2012

Unprotected exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can increase the risk of developing cataracts and damaging the retina, which could lead to total blindness. UV damage is cumulative, so the longer your eyes are exposed to UV radiation, the greater the risk of developing conditions such as macular degeneration later in life. However, it's never too late to begin protecting the eyes from the sun's harmful rays. Here are the top 5 ways to protect your eyes from the sun.

1. Wear protective eyewear

You should wear protective eyewear any time your eyes are exposed to UV light, even on cloudy days and in winter months. If you wear UV protective contact lenses, you still need to wear a pair of sunglasses to protect the area of the eye that is not covered by the lens.

2. Choose quality sunglasses

Look for sunglasses that offer good protection. Sunglasses should block out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. Some of the higher-priced options with polycarbonate lenses claim to block 100 percent of the UV rays.

3. Inspect your sunglasses

Check to make sure your sunglass lenses are perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection. It is not necessary to spend a fortune on sunglasses to be properly protected. Just take the time to carefully inspect the lenses before you buy.

4. Wear gray-colored lenses

Gray-colored lenses reduce light intensity without altering the color of objects, providing the most natural color vision. Lens color is really a matter of preference--the most important feature to look for in a sunglass lens is how much UV radiation it absorbs.

5. Protect kids and teens

Do not forget protection for children and teenagers. They typically spend more time in the sun than adults. Children's sunglasses now come in an array of colorful designs, many modeled after adult styles.

Source: American Optometric Association, Summer is Almost Here! Help Protect Your Eyes from Harmful UV Rays. 14 June 2007.

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