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Sunglasses UV Rating

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Why the UV Rating of Your Sunglasses is Important

The UV rating of your sunglasses inform you of how well they protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet radiation. As eye care professionals, we want to stress the importance of protecting your eyes whenever possible.

Everybody knows how sunglasses reduce glare and make the sun more enjoyable, but did you also know the important role that your sunglasses play in protecting your eyes?

UV radiation – given off by the sun – is well known to damage our bodies. Its impact on the skin can range from mundane (mild sunburns, a “tan”) to severe (skin cancer). Similarly, UV rays can damage your eyes and cause lasting – and often permanent – vision loss.

What are UV Rays?

UV rays (also called UV radiation, UV light, or ultraviolet light) are part of the spectrum of light just beyond our ability to see. The sun is the biggest source of UV rays, though some light sources (like the bulbs used in tanning beds) also emit UV rays.

There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA and UVB rays both pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and any cloud cover with relative ease; UVC rays are blocked by our atmosphere and do not reach us.

Harmful Effects of UV Radiation on Our Eyes

A few ways that UVA radiation damages our eyes include:

  • Contribution towards the development of cataracts.
  • Photoconjunctivitis – These inflammatory issues are similar to a sunburn on and in the eye. Though they do not appear to cause long-term damage, they can be quite painful.
  • Macular degeneration – Read more information about macular degeneration here.

A few ways that UVB radiation damages our eyes include:

  • Photokeratitis – These inflammatory issues are similar to a sunburn on and in the eye. Though they do not appear to cause long-term damage, they can be quite painful.
  • Cancer – Exposure to the sun is known to contribute towards the development of melanoma. In some cases, this requires surgical amputation of the eye.

How Your Sunglasses Protect Your Eyes from UV Radiation

Sunglasses are a stylish and easy way to protect your eyes. So long as your lenses are rated appropriately, you can feel confident that your favourite pair of shades are doing their job.

How Sunglasses Are Rated for UV Protection

Simply put, you’re looking for sunglasses rated as “UV 400”. This rating means the sunglasses filter out wavelengths of light up to 400 nanometres, which effectively blocks somewhere between 99 and 100% of UV radiation.

Keep in mind that the level of tinting on the sunglasses are not what facilitate blocking UV radiation. The lenses must be designed to do so. When shopping for a new pair of sunglasses, ensure that you are choosing sunglasses rated to block UV light.

Unsure of What to Look For? Let Us Help!

In our Sunglass Cove, we carry a diverse range of sunglasses from a variety of great brands (like Coach, Ray Ban, and Serengeti). Pop by and let us know what you’re looking for- we’ll be sure to find you a pair of sunglasses that look great and protect your eyes!

Dr Moore

Written by Shawn Moore

Dr. Moore began his career in Barrie, moved to Orillia, and purchased what is now Orillia Optometry in 2001. Dr. Moore thoroughly enjoys primary care optometry, but his areas of interest are vision therapy, concussion management, contact lenses / multifocal contact lenses, and dry eye.

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