We are officially in the dog days of summer. People are careful to protect their skin from the ravages of the sun during this season but often don’t realize they need to protect their eyes as well. Sunglasses are an important investment. ‘Shades’ as they are commonly called by today’s younger generation keep your eyes safe from the direct sunlight while also performing double duty as a fashion statement for most people. What follows are some helpful hints for optimizing your sunglasses purchase.

• Always check the packaging and accompanying information to find out the level of UV or ultraviolet ray protection the sunglasses offer. Much is written and discussed about the dangers of UV rays to your skin but all too often doctors overlook the damage that can occur to unprotected eyes.

Research has shown that over time UV rays can damage your central vision, the macula that is part of the back of the retina, or the cornea and lens where many of the UV rays are absorbed. Too, there are different types of UV rays, each with their own level of harm they can cause so it is best to purchase sunglasses that offer the greatest amount of protection. Purchase sunglasses that offer 99% to 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays.

• People tend to mistakenly believe that darker sunglasses offer greater protection against the sun’s rays. But, that is not true. Darker lenses cause the pupil to dilate which actually allows in more light. More important than the tint is the guarantee of 100% UV ray protection.

• There is a difference between ‘polarized’ lenses and UV protective lenses. Polarized lenses reduce glare from the surfaces of your focus – for example, if you are driving, boating or skiing. However, polarized lenses do not protect from UV rays. Certainly, they help you see things more clearly whenever there is glare but it may also reduce your ability to see other things such as your phone screen.

• Don’t buy sunglasses that don’t fit. You may like the way the sunglasses look but if they don’t provide maximum protection, they are not a good choice. Today, many sunglasses are made as ‘wrap arounds’ which prevent the sun’s rays from entering the eyes from the sides of your face. Wrap around sunglasses also keep other objects such as sand or allergens from getting in. When buying these types of glasses make sure they are not too tight and leave room between your eyelashes and the frames but don’t buy them so loose they will fall off your face.

Have questions about caring for your eyes? Contact the professionals at Island Eyecare.