Sunny days are here and summer is in full swing, so it’s time to break out your best accessories and up your eye game. Of all your summer must-haves, we’d argue that sunscreen is probably the most important item you own, but closely behind it are your shades. Yes, those fashionable frames do a lot more than just look cool and keep you from squinting all day. They also protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes from harmful UV rays. And as a bonus for keeping your eyes safe, you also get to express your unique style and have a little fun with your summer fashion.
When you’re choosing sunglasses, a few key things matter. Style, of course comes into play. So does the shape of your face, your personal vibe and your price point. But you also have to consider the kinds of sunglasses you are going to wear and what level of UV protection they offer. And if you’re not lucky enough to have perfect 20/20 vision, then you might also want to consider prescription lenses to help you (literally) navigate your summer adventures.
4Why UV Protection Matters With Your Sunglasses
It’s common knowledge that the sun can do a lot of damage to your skin, and while we love a bronzed glow and summer beach days, SPF is essential to keeping your skin safe during your time outside. We know that sunscreen can prevent the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation (both UVA and UVB rays) from reaching the skin, and that protection from SPF can reduce the risk of sunburns, skin damage and ultimately skin cancer. But even the most health-conscious and safety-focused people can overlook the potential damage that the sun can do to your eyes.
Yes, your eyeballs, and the skin around your eyes, including the eyelids and the underage area are all extremely vulnerable to the sun.
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, “the sun’s rays can seriously damage the eyes and surrounding skin, leading to vision loss and conditions from cataracts and macular degeneration to eye and eyelid cancers.” And because we are exposing our eyes to the sun on an almost daily basis without even realizing it, we’re constantly putting ourselves at risk. Clearly you can’t put SPF in your eyes. As anyone who has ever had sunscreen run into her eyes during a pool day knows, it can sting and it is seriously unpleasant (to put it nicely). But what’s even less pleasant is irreversible eye damage, which is why sunglasses are crucial.
Sunglasses should block 99-100 percent of the sun’s UV rays, according to the Mayo Clinic. You also need to make sure that they screen out 75% to 90% of visible light. This information should be confirmed on the tag or packaging, and if you’re not sure, check with the sales clerk, ophthalmologist or optometrist you are working with.
For added protection, wraparound frames provide the most coverage, and the more glasses and lenses cover your eyes, the more they can block out the sun’s rays. Luckily for you, large frames are always in style, but more on that below. And lastly, even on an overcast day, the sun’s rays can still get through the clouds, so have your glasses handy any time you are going to be outside, especially during the hours when the sun’s rays are most potent, from 10am – 2pm.