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Consequences of being outside frequently without sunglasses/goggle protection

We mostly think of sunglasses as an implement of comfort and coolness. We spend hundreds to look just so. But did you ever think about the fact that sunglasses are protecting you from conditions and diseases that can damage your eye and threaten your sight? We’ve compiled facts and guidelines regarding why it is important to wear sunglasses or goggle protection when spending time outdoors. 

If you have any questions or concerns regarding eye health or safety, contact your local Lafayette, Longmont, Greeley, or Boulder eye doctor today.

Damage, diseases, and conditions resulting from being outside without sunglasses or goggles 

UV rays are invisible to the eyes, yet they can drastically affect them. Prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays without protection can cause-

Increased chance of eye diseases like:

  • Cancer-

The skin around the eyes is thinner and more delicate, thus easily damaged by UV rays. Cancer cells divide uncontrollably and can spread to surrounding tissues. There is no set cure for cancer, but there are treatments that might cure instances of cancer. 

  • Cataracts- 

Sun exposure can contribute to the development of cataracts, or a cloudiness of the lenses of the eye, resulting in blurred vision, double vision, sensitivity to light, faded colors, and, if left untreated, blindness. The only treatment is surgery.

Conditions like:

  • Photokeratitis- 

Often referred to as a “sunburn of the eye,” it is a painful, but temporary, condition that affects the corneas. It is caused when UV rays bounce off snow, sand, water, or ice. You can experience pain, blurriness, tearing, grittiness, sensitivity, and halos in your vision.

  • Pinguecula-

A yellow, raised growth that grows in the conjunctiva, or clear tissue that covers your eye, that may or may not include redness, dryness, and swelling. It will not go away without surgery, but that is seldom recommended.

  • Pterygium-

“Surfer’s eye” is a growth of pink, fleshy tissue in the conjunctiva. It can remain small or grow in size, eventually large enough to cover the cornea. If that happens, it will affect your vision, in addition to redness, swelling, itchiness, dryness, grittiness, and blurry vision. An eye doctor will treat the symptoms, but the only treatment if it affects your vision is surgery. 

In addition:

    • Children’s eyes are particularly susceptible to damage from UV rays
    • Sunglasses and goggles protect against damage from wind and debris, as well
    • Eye protection can help to prevent dry eye syndrome

*The only way to avoid the above diseases, conditions, and damage is to avoid overexposure to sunlight and to wear sunglasses or goggles when exposed.

How to be safe while outdoors

It would be unrealistic to expect people to stay out of the sunlight altogether, not to mention unhealthy, but there are some simple guidelines that will help you choose the right protective eyewear and avoid dangerous UV rays within reason. 

  • Look for glasses that block 99–100% of UVB and UVA light for adequate protection
  • Wraparound glasses will protect from the rays that slip in through the top and sides of your glasses
  • Make sure that your eyewear is comfortable and practical because if they aren’t, you likely won’t wear them and they won’t protect you
  • Use goggles during outdoor sports to avoid UV rays, wind and debris, and damage to your eyes
  • Always have a spare pair nearby
  • Be aware that wearing dark sunglasses that aren’t designed to block UV rays can be more harmful to your eyes than not wearing sunglasses at all. Your pupils will dilate behind the dark lenses and with no UV protection, even more dangerous rays will enter your eye.
  • Don’t be fooled by a cloudy day, you still need to wear your shades. In fact, “90% of UV rays penetrate through clouds” and reflect off surfaces like sand, water, and snow, according to The Conversation
  • If possible, avoid the sun during peak hours of UV radiation—from 8 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.

In summary

Being outside is important for your health, not to mention the only place to enjoy many of our favorite types of recreation. While you’re out there, be sure to take care of one of your most vital senses by wearing sunglasses or goggles and following our simple guidelines.

NOTE: We are now able to provide prescription lenses housed in a frame insert that can fit within your goggles!  

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, please make an appointment at your local Lafayette, Greeley, Longmont, or Boulder eye doctor. The Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado has dedicated doctors and staff and top-of-the-line technology to treat you. Contact us today!

For more eye care information, read our blogs Eye Health & Screenings and Dry Eye Syndrome: What to Know.