It’s probably no surprise that ultraviolet (UV) light isn’t good for your eyes. What is surprising, though, is the persistence of these 7 myths about UV eye safety:
1. Sunblock and a Hat are Enough to Protect Me From UV Light
Sunblock and a hat offer worthwhile protection, but they don’t protect your eyes from UV light that bounces up at you from below. Beach sand, for example, reflects 15% of UV light. Be sure to also protect yourself by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses.
2. Windows Block UV Light, So I cCan Skip The Sunglasses
Most windows, unless they’re specially coated, block only some UV light. Only 14% of side windows in cars, for example, block enough UV light to protect you. So when you’re driving, don’t forget the UV-blocking sunglasses.
3. I Don’t Need to Wear Sunglasses on Cloudy Days
Different kinds of clouds block different amounts of UV light, so it’s hard to know for sure how much is getting through. Some clouds only block about 25-50%. Thin clouds may actually expose you to more UV light than a clear sky, since they can scatter sunlight and redirect it toward you.
Don’t guess. To protect your eyes, wear UV-blocking sunglasses even when it’s cloudy.
4. Darker Sunglasses Block mMore UV Light
Not true. The only way to tell for sure that sunglasses block UV light is to look for a label that ensures “100% UV protection.” As long as you see that label, the darkness or color doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, less than half of consumers check for this label, according to a 2014 Academy of Ophthalmology survey!
5. More Expensive Sunglasses Block More UV Light
Also not true. Inexpensive sunglasses that carry a “100% UV protection” label are just as good at blocking UV as more expensive specs. As long as you see that label, you’re covered.
6. All Eyes Carry The Same Risk of Damage From UV Light
In this way we are not all created equal. People with light-colored eyes, such as green or blue, are at higher risk for damage from UV light.
7. I Can’t Get Eye Cancer; It’s Too Rare
You certainly can, and it’s correlated with more sun exposure. Even more likely, though, is that you’ll get cataracts or macular degeneration earlier or more severely if you don’t block harmful UV light from entering your eyes.
The Bottom Line
Wear sunglasses that carry a “UV400” or “100% UV protection” label. It’s an easy way to save your vision while enjoying the Florida sunshine.
Sources: National Institutes of Health, World Health Organization, American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user martinwcox.