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Sunglass Smarts: Read Labels & Replace Damaged/Scratched Lenses

As we continue to roll out this year’s sunglass trends, we would be remiss not to mention the importance of protecting your eyes, as well as the delicate skin around them, from the sun’s damaging rays.

Cheryl Khanna, M.D., Mayo Clinic, warns, “UV radiation from the sun can damage not only the skin of your eyelid but also the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. UV exposure also contributes to the development of certain types of cataracts, growths on the eye and possibly macular degeneration.”

What you should look for in a Sunglass Lens:

Blocks 99 percent of Ultraviolet Rays
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a lens that blocks 99 percent of UV protection: “You should always buy sunglasses with this feature. Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight is linked to cataracts and eye growths, including cancer. UVB radiation is considered more dangerous to the eyes and skin than UVA radiation. Both plastic and glass lenses absorb some UV light, but UV absorption can be improved by adding chemicals to the lens material during manufacturing or by applying special lens coatings. Look for sunglasses that block 99 percent or 100 percent of all UV light. Some manufacturers’ labels say ‘UV absorption up to 400nm.’ This is the same thing as 100 percent UV absorption.”

Polarized Lenses
Another option suggested by the AAO, is a polarized lens. It works to cut reflected glare — sunlight that bounces off smooth surfaces like pavement, car windows, chromed surfaces or water. It can be particularly useful for activities such as driving and fishing. Polarization has nothing to do with UV light absorption, but many polarized lenses are now combined with a UV-blocking substance. Be sure to check the label to make sure the lenses provide maximum UV protection.

Mirror Coated
The hot new trend this season, mirror finishes are thin layers of various metallic coatings on an ordinary lens. Don’t get a false sense of protection, however. When you are looking to purchase mirrored lenses make sure they have an additional coating that will fully protect you against UV radiation.

Now that you are educated on the types of lenses that protect from UV rays, you must keep those sunnies in good shape once you find the pair you love.

Michael Ehrlich, M.D. fellowship trained oculoplastic surgeon and board certified ophthalmologist at Yale School of Medicine, explained the importance of maintaining your lenses. He discussed in a recent Allure article “how lenses can lose their efficacy overtime.” Specifically, Ehrlich indicated that “every time you throw your sun glasses in a bag without its case you run the risk of damaging the lenses – even if the scratches aren’t visible to the naked eye.”

Keeping this wear-and-tear in mind, Ehrlich recommends that “patients replace their lenses every two years, assuming they wear sunglasses about two hours a day.”

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