People often associate sunglasses with sunny weather (can’t blame them, it is called ‘sun’ glasses). However, it is important to know that the harmful UVA and UVB rays can affect you regardless of the weather being sunny or not.
Just like how you must apply sunscreen to your skin especially if you’re stepping out, no matter the time of day, you must wear your sunglasses even if it is snowing or raining outside with practically no sight of the sun. We’ll get into the whys in more detail later. Now, let’s go back to the origins of UV protection to understand its benefits better.
History Of UV Protection In Glasses
Around two centuries ago, the concept of using tinted glasses came into our lives. At this point, no one really knew about the importance of UV protection so tinted glasses were the only option for people suffering from light sensitivity.
Fast forward to a few decades, around the 1920s, people started using sunglasses as a way to replicate movie stars — these stars wore sunglasses to protect their eyes from the harsh sunlight and the paparazzi of course! A few years down the line, a man named Sam Foster sold his sunglasses on the beaches of Atlantic City, New Jersey under the name Foster Grant from a Woolworth on the Boardwalk. These glasses were specifically marketed to protect the eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Thus, began the evolution of sunglasses that protected our eyes from the UV rays.
Benefits Of UV Protection In Glasses
Glasses that offer high levels of UV protection help shield you from serious vision issues in the long run. Just like how unprotected skin may develop skin issues like hyperpigmentation, your eyelids and eyes too need protection so you don’t contract melanoma. Moreover, eyes that are regularly exposed to UV rays show signs of cataracts almost five to ten years earlier than those that are always protected.
Another myth to bust from our minds is that the darker the tint, the better the protection. While tints do help to a large extent in eye protection, it is good to know that different types of lenses and levels of tints have been specifically designed to reduce the amount of UV light penetrating our eyes. So much so that, even clear lenses can offer this protection.
Is UV Protection The Same As Blue Light Protection?
In most cases, yes. We recommend you choose sunglasses that offer 100 percent UV protection as they will also absorb most of the blue light, also known as HEV rays. The color of the lens matters most for protection against HEV light. Opt for lenses that are bronze, copper, or reddish-brown for the most protection against HEV rays.
Are Polarized Sunglasses The Same As UV Sunglasses?
No. There’s a stark difference between UV-protected sunglasses and polarized sunglasses. To explain it in short, understand this: while UV protection lenses shield your eyes from the harmful sun rays, polarized sunglasses eliminate glare that causes discomfort. To know more about the difference between the two, click here.
How Much UV Protection Should Sunglasses Have?
Ideally, you want sunglasses that offer UV400, which means they block 100 percent of UV rays.
Are Regular Glasses The Same As UV Glasses?
No, not necessarily. However, it’s important to choose everyday prescription lenses equipped with a UV coating to protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays
Myths About UV Rays and UV Protection Glasses
Let’s bust some myths!
1. All Types of Sunglasses block UV Rays
Not all sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays. If you’re unsure about the level of UV protection your sunglasses provide, consult your optician or eye doctor before making the purchase.
2. Sunglasses should be used only when exposed to sunlight
Ensure you are wearing sunglasses even when you’re not directly under the sunlight. Although non sunny weather implies lesser UV and HEV exposure to some degree, your eyes will still be exposed to UV rays reflected from buildings, roadways and other surfaces.
3. Sunglasses not required in snowy areas
Sunglasses are important, especially in snowy areas. Since fresh snow can reflect 80 percent of UV rays, nearly doubling your overall exposure to solar UV radiation, you should wear sunglasses when skiing or just playing in the snow.
4. You don’t need sunglasses if you wear UV-blocking contact lenses
Even if your contact lenses block UV rays, you still need sunglasses. UV-blocking contacts shield only the part of your eye under the lens. Wearing sunglasses protects these delicate tissues and the skin around your eyes from UV damage.
5. Not All Skin Tones Need Protection from UV Rays
Doctors advise everyone, regardless of skin color, to protect themselves from UV damage. While people with deeper skin tones may have a lower risk of skin cancer from UV radiation, the risk of eye damage from UV and HEV rays is the same for all skin tones.