Summertime is sunglasses time.  For some of us, sunglasses are just something we grab off a rack at the drug store or supermarket.  For others, they’re a significant fashion statement.  But did you know that sunglasses are critical to protecting your eyes from the sun, and that wearing the wrong sunglasses can do more harm than good?


Most of us know about the danger of too much sun exposure on our skin – that’s why we buy sunscreen products.  The function of sunscreen is to protect our skin from ultraviolet (UV) light – invisible rays emitted by the sun.  Well, our eyes need the same kind of protection.  Exposing your eyes to too much UV light can damage the cornea, lens and retina, and lead to cataracts and/or macular degeneration, both of which can lead to blindness.  Sunglasses are also necessary for protecting the delicate skin around your eyes, where damage can cause skin cancer.  


So, what’s the next step?  Purchasing sunglasses with a label indicating 99 or 100% UV protection.  Don’t assume that a dark lens is doing the job – UV protection comes from a clear, chemical coating applied to the lens, not from the lens color.  And be sure your sunglasses cover the entire eye area; consider purchasing close-fitting, larger-lensed or wrap-around sunglasses for maximum protection.


And how does wearing the wrong sunglasses do more harm than good?  Wearing any dark glasses causes your pupils to expand to let in more light.  Sunglasses without UV protection let more harmful UV rays into your expanded pupil, so your eyes are actually being exposed to more potential damage than if you were wearing no sunglasses at all.


Finally – don’t save your sunglasses just for summer or sunny days.  Any daylight, any time of year, brings with it UV rays. 


When you think about it, the right sunglasses are a darn good investment.  All in favor, say “eye”!