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Questions & Answers About Sunglasses

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Dr. Koppel Answers Your Questions About Sunglasses

Q: What can a person do to protect herself from sun exposure?

Limiting sun exposure, especially during midday when sun exposure is highest. Having a wide brim hat for shade, using protective sunscreen lotion and proper sunglasses with UV protection are all part of the plan to protect ourselves from harmful sun exposure.

Q: What exactly are “ultraviolet rays?”

Ultraviolet rays are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. We have on the extreme long wavelength side to include radio, microwave, and infrared. Then there is the visible spectrum of light. Just like the colors of the rainbow, that the human eye is able to “see” or detect. Or the beautiful Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. Then we have shorter wavelengths of light like Ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays. As it sounds these shorter wavelengths of light can be very harmful and dangerous both to our eyes and body.

Q: How can people protect themselves from the sun’s UV rays?

Proper protection can include sunscreen lotion for our exposed skin areas as well as proper sunglasses to protect our eyes from harmful UV exposure.

Q: Are sunglasses an important part of a sun protection plan?

Sunglasses with proper ultraviolet radiation protection is very important to protect our eyes from increased risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Q: What type of sunglasses best protect you from UV rays?

Larger sun frames and even wrap around to cover our eyelids, brows, and side of our eyes are all helpful. This can help reduce “crow’s feet” around our eyes as well. Those tiny little wrinkles we can get from squinting.

Q: I’ve heard of getting my skin sunburned, but can your eyes also get sunburned?

Our eyes like our body get a cumulative effect of harmful UV exposure over the years. This can result in corneal burns, earlier formation of cataracts, and macular degeneration. We might remember the last solar eclipse several years ago. There is always an increased risk of developing a “solar retinopathy ” an extremely bad burn to our eyes that can cause permanent vision loss, from staring at the sun without the proper protection. Not even everyday sunglasses should be used for this extremely high energy ultraviolet light, Only special certified protective filters should be used, or better yet, only observing the eclipse by an indirect method should be done.

Q: Do darker sunglasses mean better sun protection?

Darker sunglasses might actually be more harmful without the proper UV protection since our pupils will dilate or get bigger behind the darker lens allowing more harmful UV light in. We should always make sure sunglasses have the proper ultraviolet radiation filters.

Q: Does having a prescription make it harder to get the right sunglasses?

Sunglasses can be made with or without prescription as well as polaroid filters to further block out reflected light from a horizontal surface. This would be helpful when driving to see the pavement or roadways better. This is a must, especially for fishermen, lifeguards, boaters, or anyone enjoying time near the water. Just remember, these polaroid glasses can make it difficult to see our cell phones and some digital devices.

Q. Do certain brands of sunglasses perform better than other brands?

There are many excellent sunglass manufacturers offering not only proper UV protection but also high contrast light filtering properties for certain activities or lifestyles such as golfing or shooting.