Eye Care & Protection

Eye Care & Protection

The sun emits three kinds of ultraviolet radiation: UVA, UVB and UVC. While UVC is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, UVB radiation is only partially blocked and can burn the skin and eyes. UVA rays are not filtered and cause the most damage to vision health.

The Vision Council's most recent VisionWatch survey reveals American adults experience symptoms – like irritation in the eye, trouble seeing, wrinkles around the eye, red or swollen eyes, sunburn of the eyelids and eye, and even cancer on or around the eye – from prolonged UV exposure. However, only 21.2 percent report they "always" wear sunglasses. The findings show:

  • The most popular time American adults spend time outdoors is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., when the UV exposure to the eyes is at its highest;
  • When purchasing sunglasses, the following things are very important to American adults: Comfort of fit, affordability, UV protection, style/fashion/brand and athletic performance;
  • American adults are most likely to wear sunglasses at the following places: Driving a car, while walking outside, while at the beach, while doing yard work and while on a boat.

UV protection should be a family affair. Children generally receive about three times the annual adult dose of UV. However, only 7.4 percent of American adults report their child(ren) "always" wears sunglasses. And up to 13.4 percent use "nothing" to protect their child(ren)'s eyes and surrounding skin from the sun's UV rays.

Common UV Protection Questions Answered

Q: Does the darkness of the lenses equate to higher UV protection?
A: No. However, 41.5 percent of American adults believe it does. Dark lenses without adequate UV protection can be worse than wearing no sunglasses at all because they cause the eye's pupil to dilate, which then increases retinal exposure to unfiltered UV.

Q: Do all sunglasses offer UVA/UVB protection?
A: No. Since shielding the eyes from damaging radiation is crucial, it is imperative to look for a label, sticker or tag indicating UV protection before purchasing a pair of sunglasses.

Q: When do UV rays affect the eyes?
A: UV radiation is present year-round, so despite the season or weather. So it's important to wear proper eye and skin protection while outside during daylight hours.

Q: What should be considered when purchasing a pair of sunglasses?
A: Protection, daily activities, comfort and personal style.

Important Steps to Maintaining Eye Health

The Vision Council encourages everyone to wear sunglasses whenever they're outdoors during daylight hours. Adults and children should have a comprehensive annual eye exam, as an eyecare provider can make recommendations regarding sunglasses tailored to an individual's vision and lifestyle needs. Additionally, sunglasses are also considered a style accessory that can elevate any look! Individuals should start a collection to coincide with their varying activities and ever-changing wardrobes.

Don't forget to celebrate National Sunglasses Day on June 27 by posting a photo with your favorite sunglasses tagging @TheVisionCouncil, and using #NationalSunglassesDay and #SunglassSelfie. For more information, visit nationalsunglassesday.com.