Tips for Sizing Up Summer Eyewear
With the Summer Solstice come and gone, it’s officially summer throughout the country. Summer often means long days at the beach or pool, soaking in the sun and frolicking in the warm water. When you’re packing your bag to head down to the shore, you’ll probably include plenty of water, sandals, snacks, and sunscreen to protect your sensitive skin from burning. But just like you’ll need to ensure that your skin is safe from the sun’s rays, you’ll want to bring the proper eye protection to not only keep the sun out of your eyes, but to also prevent damage from those harmful UV rays.
Prolonged exposure to sunlight can not only expose your eyes to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, but it will also expose the delicate skin surrounding the eyes. UV rays can damage the cornea, lens, and other parts of the eyeball, which can potentially lead to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration, which is a breakdown of the portion of the eye that allows you to see details easily.
For people who prefer not to wear prescription glasses, some contact lenses can absorb UV radiation and protect the eye from potential sun damage. The FDA lists two classifications for UV-blocking contact lenses, Class I and Class II. Class I blocks 90 to 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays, and Class II blocks 70 to 95 percent of UVA and UVB rays. While these contact lenses aren’t enough to offer protection to the entire eye, including the surrounding skin and the eyelid, they are a good supplement for everyday wear or for people who don’t wear wraparound sunglasses.
The best way to ensure good protection for the entire eye is to choose sunglasses that block harmful UV rays. Ideally, these sunglasses should block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays, and sunglasses should be labeled with the amount of UV protection they offer (if any). It’s important to keep in mind that darker sunglasses don’t necessarily mean more protection as the UV protection is applied using a clear chemical.
It’s best to choose close-fitting or wraparound sunglasses as these will not only offer you protection from the sun’s glare, but will also better protect the delicate skin surrounding the eyes. There are other considerations when shopping for sunglasses aside from UV protection, including whether your lenses are polarized (which reduces glare and is especially helpful when spending time on the water or snow), mirror coated (which reduces visible light), or gradient (the lenses may be darker on the top or bottom depending on what kind of gradient you choose).
After spending all this time considering different eye wear options, make sure you purchase a case for your glasses. The last thing you’ll want to worry about is crushing your precious lenses after spending so much time picking out the perfect pair. The case will also prevent you from scratching your lenses with your keys, sand, or anything else that might find its way into your bag this summer.