Always Protect Your Family’s Eyes


During the summer, the temperatures increase and we all become very aware of the sun’s impact on our life. We vigilantly put on sunscreen to protect our skin, but have you thought about the sun’s impact on your eyes.

The sun emits radiation in the form of ultraviolet (UV) light. Although UV rays make up a small portion of the sun’s rays, they damage your skin cells and can cause damage to your eyes.

Exposure to the sun’s UV rays has been linked to:

  • Cataracts
  • Tumors of the eye
  • Retina damage
  • Macular degeneration
  • Temporary vision loss

Dr. Zegary Allen, Ophthalmologist with St. Elizabeth Ophthalmology Department, says “Having the right type of sunglasses can help you protect your eyes and reduce your risk for long-term eye damage.”

Choosing the Right Type of Sunglasses

To protect your eyes from sun damage, you need sunglasses designed to block UV light. Dr. Allen offered these tips for choosing the right sunglasses:

  • Don’t just pick your sunglasses for tint, look for UV labeling. The UV absorption should be 400 nanometers or higher or block at least 99 percent of UV rays.
  • Understand the difference between polarized and UV blocking lenses. Polarized sunglasses describe how light bounces off the surface of the lens. They can be very useful in reducing glare but offer no UV protection unless specifically labeled.
  • If you rely on “transition” glasses, you may not have UV protection. Make sure if you use these as outdoor sunglasses that you specifically order lenses with UV protection.
  • Never look directly into the sun, even if you are wearing sunglasses. Your eye is like a magnifying glass, and when you look directly into the sun, its intensity can damage the cells that detect light.

Dr. Allen adds, “I would also look for wrap-around and shatter resistant sunglasses. Both of these features add additional protection for your eyes.”

Eye Health Beyond UV Light

Protecting your eyes from UV radiation damage is important, but Dr. Allen says there is more to eye health than sunglasses. He says, “I want people to think of their eyes, the same way they think about the rest of their body. In fact, a lot of the same concepts used in a healthy lifestyle will keep your eyes healthy.”

Dr. Allen recommends the following for overall eye health:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet with fruits and vegetables.
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
  • Always wear protective eyewear that wraps around the side of your head when working in an area that has flying dust or particles.
  • Wash your eyelids every night. Keeping your eyelids clean and your eyelashes free of debris will help prevent bacteria from entering your eye.

Learn more about Ophthalmology services at St. Elizabeth Healthcare or make an appointment with one of our doctors.