What Matters When Picking Out Sunglasses?

If you’re like us, you’re having a bit of a strange summer.  Probably the strangest in your lifetime.  Nonetheless, the sun could care less about the pandemic, and is out doing it’s thing even though we are limited in what we can do, so a good pair of sunglasses is a MUST regardless of whether we are wearing masks or not.

When choosing sunglasses, have you ever thought about what’s important?  Are you confused about UVA/UVB?

Of course there’s the question about whether sunglasses should be designer or economical and replaceable.  I mean some of us have this odd syndrome where we either lose ours or sit on them regularly, what’s that about?

Most of us just worry about how they frame our face, but in reality, we should really be thinking about their purpose.

Other than a fashion statement, the point of sunglasses is to shield our eyes from the harmful rays of the sun, and help us see better while they are on us!

We asked our doctors and they shared the following golden nuggets of info.

  • UV protection is super important.
  • Polarization is NOT important for safety.
  • Polarization however is important for convenience with glare when driving or fishing.  
  • If your sunglasses are old or scratched, the UV filter may have been worn off – this wear and tear will limit the protection! (even if the sunglasses still “seem dark”)
  • The “dark” part of the sunglasses is only the visible spectrum and has nothing to do with the harmful UV spectrum.
  • This spectrum difference also explains why there can be visibly clear safety glasses that provide UV protection.  
  • UVA and UVB protection is key (both, not just one)
    • Why?  Well both types of UV rays are proven to contribute to the risk for skin cancer. What’s the difference?
      • Ultraviolet A (UVA) has a longer wavelength, and is associated with skin aging.
      • Ultraviolet B (UVB) has a shorter wavelength and is associated with skin burning.
      • UVA and UVB rays affect our skin differently, but they both cause harm. Unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB damages the DNA in skin cells, producing genetic defects, or mutations, that can lead to skin cancer (as well as premature aging.)

What can happen if you don’t wear proper sunglasses?

  • Eye Cancer (sunglasses are the key protector from sun damage to the eye tissues that can cause cancer)
  • Cataracts can develop sooner

We love a sharp-looking pair of shades, so by all means, please pick out the frames that look best on you, but make sure those frames check off the important boxes above while doing so!

Interesting to note – all of the lenses we use for cataract surgery and lens replacement surgery at Slade & Baker Vision have built-in UV filters. As a result, the back of the eye is protected from UV light.

Sunglasses are still important however, as the eyelid skin still needs protection even after cataract or lens replacement surgery because skin cancer is still a risk on our eyelids. 

If you ever need help in finding some great places to purchase an amazing variety of sunglasses that will protect you and get an A+ on the requirements above, we have a list of locations of some amazing partners of ours in and around Houston that you can go to, just call us at 713-626-5544!

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Posted in: eye health, Ophthalmology Houston

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3900 Essex Lane – Suite 101
Houston, TX 77027

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