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Like skin, your eyes can be damaged from too much sun exposure. UV radiation can cause cataracts, degeneration of the retina, melanoma of the eye, and blindness. Sun protective eyewear can reduce UV exposure to the eyes significantly. Sun protective eyewear includes sunglasses, ski goggles, eyeglasses and contact lens that block 99-100% UVA and UVB.
Choose the right sunglasses. To start, they don't have to be costly. Inexpensive sunglasses can provide excellent protection from UV rays. Choose close-fitting, wrap-around styles with large lenses to prevent UV rays from entering through the sides and top of the frames. Darker lenses are not necessarily more protective. While there is no universal labeling of sunglasses in the U.S., look for those that provide 100% UV protection.
Tips to promote sunglass use:
- Establish guidelines for acceptable types of sunglasses for school use.
- Adopt a district dress code policy that allows sunglasses to be worn outdoors.
Want to buy 100% UV sunglasses? Check at nearly any store, from supermarkets and drug stores to department stores.
Have more questions about sunglasses? Check out Skin Cancer 101 - Sunglasses.
Unlike skin, light-colored eyes do not necessarily have a higher risk for UV damage. Australian researchers found that people with brown eyes are 80% more likely to develop cataracts from UV exposure than people with blue eyes.
Cumming RG, Mitchell P, Lim R. Am J Ophthalmol. 2000 Aug;130(2):237-8.