While a pair of cheap sunglasses might seem like a great deal — and an easy way to protect your eyes — you might be surprised to learn that this isn’t necessarily true. As your eye doctor can explain, ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause damage to your eyes just like it can cause damage to your skin.
The Problem With Cheap Sunglasses
Sunglasses with proper UV ray protection will filter out these rays as they pass through the glass. Sunglasses that block 95-99% of UV light, or glasses that are labelled as providing protection “up to 400nm,” are considered effective.
Unfortunately, cheap sunglasses might not offer this same protection. Rather than filtering out the UV rays, the darker lenses of cheap glasses merely cause your pupils to dilate — much like they do when you walk into a dark room or turn off a light. This, in turn, could expose your eyes to even more UV radiation. Rather than blocking harmful UV light, these cheap glasses might actually be even more harmful than wearing no sunglasses at all.
Common Eye Injuries
Sun-related eye injuries might not be the most common reasons for eye doctor visits, but it’s still important to know the risks of too much sun exposure. Possible eye injuries connected to UV light exposure include:
Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness, and they occur when the lens of the eye clouds over. The lens of the eye, which is found at the front of the eyeball, is made of proteins and water. Ultraviolet light can cause the proteins to form clumps that cloud the lens. The cloud expands until vision is impaired. Luckily, a trained eye surgeon can perform cataract surgery to fix this problem.
Macular degeneration happens when the center of the retina, or macula, starts to deteriorate. This is called dry macular degeneration. When abnormal blood vessels start to grow beneath the macula, the condition is known as wet macular degeneration. Both types affect central vision and are made worse by ultraviolet light. There are a few different ways that an eye doctor, like a skilled Newport Beach Eye Surgeon, may be able to treat macular degeneration.
This is a hazard of people who live at high elevations, who spend a lot of time in the sun or who ski, sail, or who indulge in water sports. It is essentially a sunburn of the eye, and like sunburn of the skin can be painful. Vision loss is usually temporary.
Cancer of the Eye
Like nearly every other organ of the body, the eye is subject to cancer, including melanomas. Melanomas are the most dangerous types of skin cancer. They need to be removed to keep them from metastasizing, or traveling to distant sites in the body.
People at Risk
Everyone is at risk for eye injury due to ultraviolet rays, but people more at risk include children, people who have fair skin and light eyes and people who spend a lot of time out in the sun, whether working or playing. Patients who are on certain medications such as tetracycline or birth control pills should also be careful about their sun exposure. Other risk factors are previous cataract surgery and diseases of the retina.
Protect Your Eyes
If you wouldn’t spend a day at the beach without your waterproof sunscreen or a UV protective shirt, you shouldn’t leave the house without a pair of sunglasses, either! Over-the-counter sunglasses are not subject to many regulations, so make sure to double-check the labels to make sure that you’re buying a quality product. If you have any questions or concerns about how to protect your eyes from UV light, don’t hesitate to contact your local eye doctor for more information.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Retina Associates of Orange County for their insight into the true cost of cheap sunglasses.