Many of us may recall a one-hit wonder by the eighties band Timbuk Three, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.” If you’d like to enjoy a healthier future with better vision, you should take their advice along with eyecare professionals who recommend wearing these tinted lenses.
But this seemingly simple buying decision can be full of pitfalls, questions and concerns. There’s actually a number of myths and often overlooked recommendations out there when it comes to wearing these protective lenses.
MYTH: You should always wear sunglasses outdoors
Always and never are two words in our vocabulary that should be used sparingly and this case is no different. If you are constantly wearing sunglasses, you’re also blocking useful and healthy light from reaching our eyes. While excessive or extended exposure to harmful UV rays has been linked to the development of vision problems like macular degeneration, you shouldn’t be shielding your eyes from sunshine 100% of the time.
RECOMMENDATION: Special circumstances
However, there are some special circumstances when you should consider wearing sunglasses consistently, when snow skiing or boating for example. The sun’s rays are magnified when reflected off snow and water and this could lead to potential damage. On some occasions, consider wearing a cap or hat with a wide rim to shade your eyes from the sun.
MYTH: Children don’t need to wear sunglasses
Young people need to protect their eyes from damage just as much as adults and should be encouraged to wear sunglasses. As a matter of fact, children with blue eyes are at a greater risk for damage from UV rays compared to kids with a darker colored iris.
RECOMMENDATION: Same as above
In cases where the sun is particularly powerful, mid-day to late afternoon, when enjoying the snow, boating, on the beach and other circumstances, children should definitely be wearing protection. In some cases, both sunglasses and a hat are an option to be considered.
MYTH: Polarized lenses are better than UV blocking models
Another misunderstood concept when it comes to picking out the right pair of sunglasses, polarized lenses versus those that block UV rays. One choice isn’t necessarily better than the other: it’s more truthful to say they offer different kinds of protection. Therefore it’s important to understand the differences between the two. In a nutshell, those that block UV rays do so from all different directions while polarized lenses allow vertical (or non-reflective glare) from reaching our eyes and affecting our vision.
RECOMMENDATION: Again, it depends upon the circumstances
People who benefit from polarized lenses are those who work in and around the water or snow and are more susceptible to an increased amount of horizontal glare that can damage their eyes. For example, a boater or fisherman can get a better look at what’s in and around the water, which could mean the difference between wrecking their vessel and safely navigating these waters.
MYTH: The darker the lens, the better the protection
Just because the lens is a darker color or deeper shade, pardon the pun, it doesn’t necessarily mean they offer better protection from harmful UV rays. You should also be wary of labels that read “sunwear / eyewear” along with “sun blockers” as these could be misleading.
RECOMMENDATION: Read the label carefully
When it comes to any important purchase, you should always read the label carefully before buying and sunglasses are no different. Look for those that offer a certain grade of protection as established by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) such as UV 400 or up to 99 or 100% of UV blockage guaranteed.
Whether you choose a UV grade of glasses or sunglasses with polarized lenses, consider consulting with your ophthalmologist before making this important decision. They can help you make the best choice when it comes to protecting your invaluable vision.