Sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement. These accessories serve as the first line of defense against harmful UV rays, wind and sand. Sunglasses can provide clearer vision in sunlight and reduce damage to your eyes.
Despite the benefits, many choose not to wear them. According to a 2016 report from the Vision Council, only 31 percent of Americans wear sunglasses every time they go outside. Sure, it’s one more thing to remember when you leave the house, but did you know that asphalt reflects up to 9 percent of UV rays and concrete reflects up to 25 percent? To help control this exposure, you should keep a pair of “sunnies” with you at all times.
With these five tips, you can protect your eye health while looking stylish.
1. Go for size.Bigger is always better, as larger shades provide more protection. Although aviators often grace the faces of Hollywood starlets (and vice presidents), they are not high in sun protection as they fall too far down the nose. Instead, look for sunglasses that wrap around the face to block the sun from all angles, both head-on and from the side.
2. Read the label.That small sticker on the lens provides an important piece of information. “Look for sunglasses that offer UVA/UVB or broad spectrum protection,” says Jessica Bixenmann, health and wellness coach and behavior change expert for Sharp Health Plan’s Best Health team. “It’s good if they can say ‘UVC protection’ as well. Standing for ultraviolet C, these rays are the most dangerous of them all.”
3. Consider your outside activities.“People who exercise outdoors should look for contoured sunglasses, which tend to be more comfortable while performing physical activity,” says Bixenmann. They also help optimize your peripheral vision when participating in sports that require you to move around from different angles, such as beach volleyball and basketball.
4. Look for polarized lenses.“They can help keep your vision sharp in most all situations,” says Bixenmann. They can also reduce eyestrain after spending hours in the sun.
5. Research coating options.A scratch-resistant coating can protect you from debris like sand at the beach. An anti-glare coating can reduce sunlight that hits the back of your sunglasses’ lenses and reflects directly into your eyes.
Don’t forget: You still need to lather your face with sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30. Sunglasses aren’t meant to replace sunscreen. Put on a hat as well to give yourself the best possible protection from UV rays when enjoying the sunny San Diego weather.