Select sunglasses for safety, not fashion

By Sheryl Kay • Published: September 28th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It might be the perfect summer accessory, but there’s more than meets the eye to choosing a good pair of sunglasses.

A recent survey showed that most people think about style and price when making their selection, but unlike that perfect purse or a hip pair of earrings, sunglasses are not simple fashion items and should be chosen based upon the available protection from dangerous ultraviolet radiation.

Conducted by the American Optometric Association, the American Eye-Q survey examined attitudes and behaviors regarding eye care. The findings showed that forty-nine percent of the respondents considered U-V protection to be the most important factor in purchasing sunglasses, whereas more than half said they were first and foremost interested in the look and cost of the glasses.

The researchers noted the critical importance of wearing adequate eye protection even on days that don’t appear to be sunny. U-V rays are always present, and overexposure to them can cause everything from degeneration of the cornea to abnormal growths, and even sunburn of the eyes.

When choosing a new pair of sunglasses, the study advised making certain that the lenses are exact in color and free from imperfections. Sunglasses should block out ninety-nine to one-hundred percent of U-V A and U-V B radiation and screen out about eighty percent, or more, of visible light.

The study concluded that the longer the eyes are exposed to solar radiation, the greater the risk, and recommended special caution in caring for children’s eyes.