Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eyeglasses - UV protection

Research has shown that exposure to small amounts of ultraviolet (UV) radiation over a period of many years increases the chance of developing cataracts and age related macular degeneration (AMD). Also, the delicate skin of the eyelids are just as susceptible as the rest of our skin to the damaging effects of UV light. To provide adequate protection for your eyes, sunglasses should:

  • block 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation (both harmful to human tissue)
  • screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light
  • be matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection
  • have lenses that are gray for proper color recognition
It is important to remember that the darkness of the lens does not indicate its ability to shield your eyes from UV rays. Many sunglasses with light-colored tints, such as green, amber, red, and gray offer the same UV protection as very dark lenses. Some manufacturers’ labels say “UV absorption up to 400nm.” This is the same thing as 100% UV absorption.

Children should also wear sunglasses that indicate the UV protection level. When purchasing toy sunglasses be sure to look for the UV protection label.

Large, wraparound-style frames may provide more efficient UV protection because they cover the entire eye-socket. This is especially important when doing activities around or on water because much of the UV comes from light reflected off the water’s surface.

Sunglasses are most effective when worn with a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.

Certain medications, such as antibiotics and birth control pills, as well as some cosmetics, may increase skin and eye sensitivity to UV in all skin types. Check the label and ask your doctor for more information.