Living in Colorado has its advantages, the unparalleled beauty of the Rocky Mountains, fantastic summer and winter outdoor activities and 300 days of sun annually. However, our high altitude and sun exposure make us much more prone to damaging our eyes from ultraviolet light.
Ultraviolet light (UV) is harmful radiation from the sun that can lead to cataracts, age related macular degeneration, and skin and ocular cancers. That is why it is critical to develop the lifelong habit of wearing UV protecting eyeglasses and sunglasses when outdoors.
When choosing sunglasses be sure they meet the following standards:
- block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
- screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light;
- make sure the fit is close to block sunlight entering from the side
If you wear eyeglasses everyday, you can protect your eyes by making sure your lenses have either a UV coating or UV protection built into the lens material. Remember UV is invisible, so a tint alone does not block the harmful UV rays. Your lenses can be clear and still protect your eyes. Transitions™ lenses are an example of a lens that both blocks UV rays and darkens when exposed to UV making it a comfortable and healthy choice.
While some contact lenses possess helpful UV blocking properties, they are no substitute for sunglasses. Studies have shown that UV blocking ability of contact lenses varies widely among brands. Also, UV blocking contacts do nothing to prevent skin cancers around the eye.
Your Vision Source doctor and optician are your resource for selecting UV protecting eyewear that functions and looks great.
Author: Dr. Kevin Krajewski
Foothills Vision Center
12792 West Alameda Parkway, Lakewood CO